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Railing pillar with lotus medallions and Jataka scenes

India, Mahabodhi temple, Bodhgaya, Bihar

Not on view

The site of the Buddha’s awakening beneath the branches of a pippala (fig) tree—known thereafter as the wisdom (bodhi) tree—was first venerated as a tree shrine (bodhighara). The earliest enclosure railing around the shrine, as well as the platform for the holy tree’s ritual watering, was likely constructed in wood. Between 100 BCE and 100 CE, a railing of locally quarried sandstone was erected. This pillar, from that first stone railing, was buried at the Mahabodhi temple when it was replaced in the seventh century CE by a granite railing that is still in place today. An archaeological investigation in the mid-nineteenth century found early sandstone pillars repurposed as building materials in a nearby Hindu monastery; other sections, including this one, were excavated between 1862 and 1873.

Railing pillar with lotus medallions and Jataka scenes, Sandstone, India, Mahabodhi temple, Bodhgaya, Bihar

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