Images of cats from the British Museum collection, £9.99
Height: 26.000 cm
Width: 46.700 cm
Depth: 6.500 cm
Asia OA 1900.4-14.1
Room 33: Asia
Schist relief panel with a scene of the eve of Siddhartha's departure
From Takht-i Bahi,
2nd-3rd century AD
Scene from the life of the Buddha
The married Prince Siddhartha led a life of luxury encouraged by his father King Suddhodana to keep him from the religious life. On a visit outside his palace he saw the 'four sights': old age, sickness, death and asceticism. He was deeply disturbed by what he saw, and began to question the nature and causes of suffering and the transience of life. His wife Yashodhara had already borne his son, Rahula, and with an heir assured Siddhartha decided to renounce the life of the palace and adopt that of a religious mendicant, a path that led him to Enlightenment.
This relief captures the moment the Prince decides to steal out of the palace by night. His wife is sleeping beside him, while female attendants and musicians lie asleep before him. His own personal attendant (his groom and confidant, Chandaka) brings him his royal turban. Textiles are swathed in the background of the bedchamber, where an oil lamp placed on a standard further indicates that it is night.
Two Indo-Corinthian columns flank the whole relief.
W. Zwalf, A catalogue of the Gandhara sc, 2 vols. (London, The British Museum Press, 1996)