India or Nepal
Ink and color on wood, with metal insets; 2 1/2 x 22 3/8 in. (6.4 x 56.8 cm)
Gift of The Kronos Collections and Mr. and Mrs. Peter Findlay, 1979 (1979.511)
Detail: The miracle at Shravasti
This scene is one of four episodes from the life of the Buddha that are painted on the interior surface of a ninth-century cover for a palm-leaf manuscript. It depicts an event that took place in the town of Shravasti, in northeastern India. Here the Buddha was challenged by a group of Brahmanic ascetics who suggested that he could not perform miracles equal to those performed by members of their group. However, the Buddha converted the skeptics by performing a number of miracles, including multiplying his image in all directions, depicted in this representation. He also walked in the air while simultaneously emitting flames from the upper part of his body and waves from the lower part of his body.
Detail: The taming of the elephant Nalagiri
The rogue elephant Nalagiri had been released by Devadatta, Buddha's evil cousin, with the intention that it would kill the Buddha. But as soon as Nalagiri saw Shakyamuni, the elephant became calm and kneeled before him. In this depiction, Ananda, the Buddha's disciple who did not desert him as Nalagiri drew near, stands beside him. This scene is one of four events from the life of the Buddha that were painted on the interior surface of a ninth-century wooden cover for a palm-leaf manuscript. The outer surface of the cover is encrusted with saffron, vermillion, and other organic matter that was ritually applied when the manuscript was in use.