Height: 50.800 cm
Width: 74.000 cm
Depth: 28.500 cm
Gift of Bhagwanlal Indraji, Ph.D.
Asia OA 1889.3-14.1
Room 33: Asia
Red sandstone pillar capital
Kushan dynasty, 1st century
From the Mathura region, Uttar Pradesh, India
A unique historical document
This pillar capital is covered with Prakrit
inscriptions in the
Pillar capitals with addorsed (back-to-back) lions are known in India from the Mauryan period (about 321-232 BC) onwards. The British Museum has in its collection a fragment from the side of a Mauryan pillar. Unlike the early Mauryan pillars, which are free-standing, in the Kushan period columns with animal capitals were used to support structures. There are differences in the form of the sculpture as well: the Kushan lions are more stylized in comparison to the robust and powerful Mauryan lions, probably influenced by Achaemenid art from Iran.
Between the two lions is a square crowning relief bearing auspicious symbols including the Buddhist triratna, or three jewels. The triratna is symbolic of, among other things, the veneration of the Buddha, his sangha or monastic order, and dharma, the faith or code of religious conduct that the Buddha professed.