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The Wardak Vase

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1880.93

  • Title (object)

    • The Wardak Vase
  • Description

    Globular reliquary vase of copper alloy, with a narrow neck and everted rim. The vase has a low, flat ring-foot, a band of three grooves around the middle, two at the base of the neck, two inside the neck just below the rim and another on the everted and sloping rim. An inscription in Kharoshthi in four lines is dated in the Kushan year 51 in the reign of the Kushan king Huvishka (c. 150-191).

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  • School/style

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 178 (date given in inscription)
  • Production place

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 17.6 centimetres (at rim)
    • Diameter: 16.9 centimetres
    • Diameter: 9.7 centimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

        inscription
      • Inscription Script

        Kharoshthi
      • Inscription Position

        3 lines around the collar; 1 line around lower body
      • Inscription Language

        Prakrit
      • Inscription Transliteration

        [1] saṃ 20 20 10 1 mas̱a arthamisiya sastehi 10 4 1 imeṇa gaḍ̱ig̱eṇa kamagulyaputra vag̱amareg̱a s̱a iśa khavadami kadalayig̱a vag̱amareg̱aviharammi thu[ba]mmi bhag̱avada śakyamuṇe śarira pariṭhaveti [2] imeṇa kuśalamuleṇa maharajarajatirajahuveṣkas̱a agrabhag̱ae bhavatu madapidara me puyae bhavatu bhradara me haṣthunaḥmareg̱as̱a puyae bhavatu yo ca me bhuya ṇatig̱amitrasaṃbhatig̱aṇa puyae bhavatu mahiya ca vag̱amareg̱as̱a agrabhag̱apaḍ̱iyaṃśae [3] bhavatu sarvasatvaṇa arogadakṣiṇae bhavatu avi ya ṇarag̱aparyata yava bhavagra yo atra aṃtara a[ṃ]ḍajo jalayuga śaśvetiga arupyata sarviṇa puyae bhavatu mahiya ca rohaṇa sada sarviṇa avaṣatrigaṇa saparivara ca agrabhagapaḍ̱iyaṃśae bhavatu mithyagas̱a ca agrabhaga bhavatu [4] eṣa vihara acaryaṇa mahasaṃghigaṇa parigraha
      • Inscription Translation

        Baums 2012: [1] In the 51st year, in the month Artemisios, after 15 (days), at this time Vag̱amareg̱a, son of Kamagulya – he has made his abode here in Khavada – establishes in the Vag̱amareg̱a monastery in a stūpa a relic of the Lord, the Śākya sage.
      • Inscription Comment

        The inscription around the shoulder and the middle with four lines of punched Kharoshthi characters is dated to the year 51 of the first Kushan era and in the reign of Huvishka (2nd century AD). The characters are now picked out in white and are of smaller size along the shoulder than those in the shorter line below it. The inscription is of the Mahāsāṃghika sect and dedicates a relic of the Buddha in a stupa at Khavada, thought to correspond to modern Wardak, Wardak district, about 65 km south-west of Kabul.
  • Curator's comments

    E. Errington: Masson records that the relic deposit comprised 'a copper vessel with dotted Pehlevi [sic] inscription', which contained 'sundry relics' and '66 copper coins' (Masson MSS Eur. E161/VII, f. 27). The coins are identifiable from Masson's description of 'Indo-Scythic' coins and account of the finds in Wilson 1841, p.118 as Kushan coins of Wima Kadphises, Kanishka I and Huvishka, i.e. a similar combination of the same types as the 21 coins from Chahar Bagh Stupa 4 (see CM 1979,0215.21-41).
    The reliquary and associated finds were excavated in 1836 (MSS Eur. E161/VII, f.27).They were dispatched from Kabul by Masson in October 1836, but only reached London in March 1839, too late for more than a brief note in Wilson 1841.

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  • Bibliography

    • Masson MSS Eur. E161/VII f.27 bibliographic details
    • Klimburg-Salter 1995 no.122, pp.153, 265-6 bibliographic details
    • Errington & Cribb 1992 no.170, pp.174-5 bibliographic details
    • Zwalf 1996 no.680, p.356 bibliographic details
    • Wilson 1841 pp.117-18 bibliographic details
    • Errington & Curtis 2007 pp.130, 133, fig.114 bibliographic details
    • Jongeward, Errington, Salomon & Baums 2012 pp.156-8, 245-6, 288-9,no.345 fig.4.33. bibliographic details
    • Konow 1929 pp.165-70, pl.XXXIII bibliographic details
    • Pargiter 1911-1912 pp.210-211 bibliographic details
    • Falk 2008 pp.63-80. bibliographic details
  • Location

    On display: G68/dc6/p2/no1

  • Exhibition history

    Exhibited:

    2012- Apr-, London, BM, G68, Coins and Medals permanent gallery
    1995, Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum, "Buddha in India"

  • Condition

    1. Copper alloy, slightly corroded. \n 2. Corrosion products visible mainly on inside of neck and on foot of vase outside. \n 3. On base, painted '5289'.

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1880

  • Acquisition notes

    Excavated on Masson's behalf in1836 (Masson MSS Eur. E161/VII, f.27).

  • Department

    Asia

  • Registration number

    1880.93

  • Additional IDs

    • 04.830 (South Kensington Museum no.)
    • 5289 (India Museum no.)
Globular vase-shaped reliquary with narrow neck and flared rim. Around the collar is an inscription in three rows banded on either side by three concentric incised lines. It dates the reliquary in year 51 (Kushan era) in the reign of Huvishka (i.e. AD 178).  A short dedication in larger script on the lower body refers to the Mahasamghikas and is the only known record of the presence of this Mahayanist Buddhist sect in Afghanistan.

Globular vase-shaped reliquary with narrow neck and flared rim. Around the collar is an inscription in three rows banded on either side by three concentric incised lines. It dates the reliquary in year 51 (Kushan era) in the reign of Huvishka (i.e. AD 178). A short dedication in larger script on the lower body refers to the Mahasamghikas and is the only known record of the presence of this Mahayanist Buddhist sect in Afghanistan.

Image description

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