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India, Chausa, Shahabad district, Bihar

Not on view

This double-sided spoked wheel is a rare example of a metal Dharma-wheel (dharmacakra), an early Indian symbol for revealed knowledge. While both Buddhists and Jains shared this symbolism, for Buddhists the wheel became the principal metaphor for the Buddha’s teachings and spiritual conquest. As such, the Dharma-wheel was frequently included in scenes of the Buddha’s first sermon and, when represented independently as here, referenced that event. This example has sixteen openwork spokes radiating from the hub. A pair of makaras (mythological sea monsters), with dolphinlike tails, frames the base, and is bracketed by female nature spirits, or yakshis.

Dharmachakra, Copper alloy, India, Chausa, Shahabad district, Bihar

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