The Gift of Anathapindada

Period: Kushan period

Date: 2nd–3rd century

Culture: Pakistan (ancient region of Gandhara)

Medium: Schist with traces of gold foil

Dimensions: 9 5/8 x 9 in. (24.4 x 22.9 cm)

Classification: Sculpture

Credit Line: Samuel Eilenberg Collection, Gift of Samuel Eilenberg, 1987

Accession Number: 1987.142.1


The identification of the subject of this relief as the Gift of Anathapindada is by no means certain. The presence at the far left of the figure holding a waterpot suggests that a gift is about to be made, as a donor traditionally poured water over the hands of a recipient to seal a gift. However, determining the overall meaning depends on identification of the objects in the bowl being proffered to the Buddha. Sudatta, called Anathapindada (the Incomparable Almsgiver), was the richest merchant of the town of Sravasti (in Kosala). He met the Buddha at Rajagriha and proposed to donate money in order to buy land for a monastery in Sravasti. The amount of the payment exacted from Anathapindada was calculated by covering the grounds of the park to be purchased with gold coins. The identification of the objects in the bowl as coins is speculative, and the precise scene in the life of the Buddha that is represented is therefore unclear.