Ring Stone

Period: Shunga period

Date: 1st–2nd century B.C.

Culture: North India

Medium: Stone

Dimensions: Diam. 2 5/16 in. (5.9 cm)

Classification: Sculpture

Credit Line: Samuel Eilenberg Collection, Bequest of Samuel Eilenberg, 1998

Accession Number: 2000.284.10


Ring stones, richly decorated with raised reliefs of female figures typically alternating with plant forms and other auspicious motifs, represent an enigmatic category of early Indian sculpture. Both the women and the flowering and fruit-bearing trees are presumably associated with fecundity. Such ring stones may have functioned as jewelers’ molds, with malleable gold sheet being hammered into the form. Here, the miniature carving shows affinities with Near Eastern seals and early Greek mold-made ceramics, supporting this theory. The ear ornaments worn by the figures are well known in this period, especially in ivory.