Ivory bodhisattva with attendants in a wooden shrine

From Kashmir, India, 8th century AD

Ivory is a material commonly associated with the Indian world. Unfortunately, as an organic material, few early examples survive. However, a small group from Kashmir dated to the mid-eighth century survived in Buddhist monasteries in the higher reaches of the Himalayas.

This example, one of the most important pieces, shows a finely executed bodhisattva surrounded by attendants seated in a painted shrine made from deodar wood. The sculpture displays a distinctly Kashmiri style, that was established in the reign of the Karkota dynasty in the late seventh century.

Apart from the fine detailing of this small sculpture, traces of pigment show that it was originally brightly painted. The wooden shrine in which the image is set, with its cusped arches supported by decorative columns and crowned by triangular pediments, is a fascinating record of contemporary architectural forms.

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More information


W. Zwalf (ed.), Buddhism: art and faith (London, The British Museum Press, 1985)


Height: 22.500 cm

Museum number

Asia OA 1968.5-21.1


Brooke Sewell Fund


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