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Gold amulet containing relics

  • Amulet with lid off

    Amulet with lid off

 

Length: 7.500 cm

Asia OA 1880-29

Room 33: Asia

    Gold amulet containing relics

    Found at the Ahin Posh Stupa, Jalalabad (Afghanistan), ancient Gandhara, 2nd century AD

    William Simpson left a note in this amulet dated 17 February 1879, which notes that he discovered it in Jalalabad with two coins and some relics inside. The cult of relic worship was very important in early Buddhism. In fact, the large stupas were often constructed to house relics which were regarded as the surviving presence of the Buddha or his monks after their physical passing from this world. This amulet would have been valued for exuding divine energy and was probably worn as a protective talisman by a pious Buddhist.

    One of the gold coins discovered in the amulet is well known for its depiction of a standing Buddha captioned 'BODDO' in Bactrian (using Greek script). This coin, now also in the British Museum, is useful for art historians to date when and where images of the Buddha were first made.

    Though a few have fallen out, the majority of the remaining stones are garnets. One is a green serpentine. It is rare to see an actual piece of Gandharan jewellery; usually it is only known to us through depiction on stone reliefs. It is common to find similarly shaped pendants on bodhisattva images, suspended from the sacred cord that runs across the body from the left shoulder.

    W. Zwalf, A catalogue of the Gandhara sc, 2 vols. (London, The British Museum Press, 1996)

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    On display: Room 33: Asia

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    Embroidery from Afghanistan, £10.99

    Embroidery from Afghanistan, £10.99