Pakistan, ancient region of Gandhara
Lent by Florence and Herbert Irving (L.1993.69.4)
When the Buddha was eighty, he died near the city of Kushinagara, breaking free of the cycle of rebirth and reaching nirvana. This panel, which would have been set into the harmika at the top of a stupa (relic mound), shows the Buddha surrounded by lay and monastic mourners in various states of grief. Their reactions are contrasted with the perfect calm of the monk with his back turned, Subhadra, who realizes there is no reason for sorrow, as the Buddha has reached nirvana. Iconic images of the Buddha’s death, based on the Gandharan prototype, became important icons for veneration across the Buddhist world in the following centuries.