Height: 15.000 cm
Width: 19.300 cm
Depth: 5.000 cm
Gift of Capt. B.C. Waterfield
Asia OA 1902.10-2.29
Room 33: Asia
Grey schist relief panel of figures venerating a stupa
From Buner / Swat, ancient Gandhara (north-west Pakistan), late 1st-2nd century AD
This relief from Gandhara allows a fascinating
insight into the nature of early Buddhist worship. The procession
of figures are performing the rite of
pradakshina, or the
circumambulation of a
The cult of the relics of the Buddha in a stupa was evidently a fundamental part of early Buddhism. The Buddha had indicated in his lifetime that his cremated remains should be interred in a stupa. Recent studies have shown that they were venerated as the living presence of the Buddha after his physical departure from this world (mahaparinirvana).
The lighting of a lamp, walking round the structure, decorating it with garlands and holding one's hands together in anjalimudra (the gesture of worship) remain an integral part of Indian worship to the present day.
W. Zwalf, A catalogue of the Gandhara sc, 2 vols. (London, The British Museum Press, 1996)