- Museum number
A drum-slab in limestone ('Palnad marble'), carved with a highly decorated stupa in the entrance of which is an image of the Buddha protected by the naga Mucilinda, with worshippers; the stupa bears dome panels carved with the Elevation of the Head-dress and Bowl of Buddha, the Interpretation of the Dream, the Birth and Presentation of the Buddha-child, the Enlightenment, a stupa and other stories from the life of the Buddha. A standing Buddha is cut into the base of the middle ayaka pillar. Said by Cunningham to have been inscribed (see Inscription field).
- Production date
Height: 136.25 centimetres
Thickness: 18.50 centimetres
Width: 111.25 centimetres
- Curator's comments
At Amarāvatī carved slabs covered the 'stūpa' drum along the processional path where worshippers could see events from the Buddha's life and representations of the 'stūpa' itself. This drum slab shows the 'stūpa' in an elaborate form. The railing pierced by an entrance surmounted by lions obscures all but the tops of the drum slabs. The first visible register represents the drum coping; a rectangular projection with pillars occurs at the cardinal points. Two are visible at the sides with lions on the corresponding gateways. Above the drum coping are huge dome panels with crowded scenes. In fact, the drum platform projected 3.7m around the dome; no stairway is depicted and none was revealed in the excavations. Above the dome panels are registers with running animals, pots of plenty and undulating garlands which mark the beginning of the curvature; above are narrative roundels set in elaborate swags. Crowning the monument, a rectangular railing encloses a pillar and parasols. All the space beside it is filled by a dense composition of jubilant deities, one of whom is playing the flute. The scene visible in the gateway represents the Buddha, after the Enlightenment, sheltered from a storm by the serpent-spirit Mucalinda. Before him are worshippers; others flanking the gate include standing, sitting and dwarfish figures carrying offerings. The sheltering of the Buddha by Mucalinda was a little-used motif in India but became popular in Southeast Asia. There is no evidence, however, for images or panels of this apparent size below the pillared platforms, whose function is obscure. The railing of the processional path consists of uprights, a coping and crossbars with prominent lotus roundels, and projecting on both sides of the gateway are the tops of pillars standing in the processional path.
However inaccurate it may be in minor or even major features, this slab shows the splendour of an eastern Deccani 'stūpa' at its most ornate.
Alexander Cunningham, 'Appendix E (in James Ferguson's Tree and Serpent Worship - inscriptions taken from the sculpted reliefs at Amaravati)' London 1873, XCV, fig. xii.
Setagaya 1990, 132.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1990 20 Oct-9 Dec, Japan, Tokyo, Setagaya Art Museum, Treasures of the British Museum, cat. no.130
1991 5 Jan-20 Feb, Japan, Yamaguchi, Prefectural Museum of Art, Treasures of the British Museum, cat. no.130
1991 9 Mar-7 May, Japan, Osaka, National Museum of Art, Treasures of the British Museum, cat. no.130
- abraded and damaged
- Associated events
Associated Event: Interpretation of Maya's Dream
Associated Event: Enlightenment of the Buddha
Associated Event: Vessantara jataka (?)
Associated Event: Elevation of the Head-dress
Associated Event: Presentation of the Baby
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Acquired as the result of the abolition in 1879 of the India Museum (Exhibition Road, London) and the partition of its contents between the British Museum and The South Kensington Museum (Victoria and Albert Museum).
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: IM 1876 no 24