Polynesian objects from early European exploration, £19.99
Diameter: 11.800 cm (base)
Gift of Sir Alexander Cunningham
Asia OA 1887.7-17.34
Reliquary in the form of a model stupa
From Stupa 15, Sonala Pind, Manikiala, ancient Gandhara (north-west Pakistan), 1st-2nd century AD
A rock crystal container was found inside the cavity in the dome. Its contents are no longer identifiable, but when Sir Alexander Cunningham first discovered it, he reported 'a very small piece of bone wrapped in gold leaf, along with a small silver coin, a copper ring and small beads of pearl, turquoise, garnet and quartz. These with the gold leaf wrapper make up the number of the saptaratna, or 'seven precious things' which usually accompany the relic deposits of the old Buddhists.' (Cunningham, Report of the ASI, 1871, p. 167). The coins of the Kushan dynasty found with the reliquary have been dated to the first century AD.
W. Zwalf (ed.), Buddhism: art and faith (London, The British Museum Press, 1985)