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Limestone relief panel depicting a chakravartin


Height: 167.700 cm
Width: 110.600 cm
Thickness: 9.000 cm

Transferred from the India Museum

Asia OA 1880.7-9.49

Room 33a: Amaravati

    Limestone relief panel depicting a chakravartin

    From the dome of the Great Stupa at Amaravati, Guntur District, Andhra Pradesh, India, 2nd century AD

    A chakravartin stands in the centre of the panel with his hands raised in anjali mudra (the gesture of worship). On either side are two attendants, three women and a man, clad in diaphanous dhotis, holding chowries (fly whisks) in their raised right hands.

    The idea of a chakravartin is an ancient one in India. It was used to denote a universal monarch, whose realm and influence spread extensively – symbolically referred to through the chakra or wheel. The ways of representing such a figure were formalized at a very early date, by including, for example, attendant figures who carry a parasol over the monarch or stand beside him with a fly-whisk. Both these aspects are present in this relief. Sometimes the figure can be seen with a chakra as well. Artistically the concept is of importance as it was used as a model to fashion the gods as well, and early images of the Buddha are found with similar features. Interestingly, even the early texts refer to the Buddha as a chakravartin whose spiritual realm spread universally. This relief carries an inscription in Brahmi script seen on a broad blank tablet over the main scene, which refers to both the maker and donor of the piece.

    D. Barrett, Sculptures from Amaravati in t (London, Trustees of the British Museum, 1954)

    R. Knox, Amaravati: Buddhist sculpture (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)


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