- Museum number
Part of a stupa drum panel showing monks offering a seat to the Buddha perhaps before the First Sermon. The haloed Buddha stands turned towards the monks, an over-robe covering both shoulders and two undergarments visible below, his right hand across his chest, palm inwards, the left securing the robe. His hair runs in curved grooves into the uṣṇīṣa and forms a small oval above the forehead. Beside him Vajrapāṇi, almost frontal, long-haired and muscular and wearing a loincloth, holds a faceted vajra vertically in his left hand. The Buddha is approached by four tonsured figures, their right shoulders bare. The first bends forward to offer a circular seat with a hatched motif round the base but otherwise wholly draped, while the other two full-length figures join their hands.
At the top is a cavetto between fillets enriched with a pattern of acanthus leaves with a drooping lobe in the middle and flanking lobes with points meeting those of adjacent leaves.
- Production date
Diameter: 5.10 centimetres
Height: 15.50 centimetres
Width: 22 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Zwalf 1996:
The cutting of all the figures and details is stiff and sometimes sharp, with grooves and ridges to define drapery folds; the heads are round and full, the eyes rounded and protruding. This is one of a small group of pieces showing a varying number of monks, all with their right shoulders bare, of whom one sometimes carries a spouted pot and one regularly presents a circular seat. For examples see Swat V.422, an incomplete scene with three monks, one with hands joined, another carrying the seat draped as far as a distinct arcaded motif below; Chatpat 44, on which five monks approach the Buddha, one with the draped seat showing only convex mouldings at the bottom. The same presentation recurs in the iconography of BM 1914.0502.1. Examples are San Francisco (B6o SI); a piece in private hands where monks approach a disc with petalled rays and hold a seat barely showing at the bottom an undulating motif below the low drapery; yet another example of such an offering places the Buddha beside three wheels on a column and touching or turning a large wheel behind it (Kurita, 1988-90: I, fig. 272). On this piece an arcaded motif seems visible on the seat but a similar piece, Columbia 80.202 (Nagar, 1981: 10-11), although heavily abraded, seems to show the type of the almost totally draped seat. Dani tentatively suggests that Chatpat 44 shows the offering of a seat before the First Sermon, although a rectangular seat is offered in the few cases where a connection with the First Sermon in the usual iconography is certain or probable. The rectangular seat recurs on fragments where the connection can only be presumed but may also be found with a variant of BM 1970.0602.1. It is striking that round seats associated with iconographies discussed in BM 1914.0502.1 and BM 1970.0602.1 can be almost wholly draped as well as showing a construction suggesting that of the cane seat of Bodhisattvas and other persons.
The attribution of this piece to the cycle of the First Sermon can be only tentative, given that it stands on its own, that the numbers and attributes of the monks in the different examples vary and that the iconography of the scenes associated with BM 1914.0502.1 and BM 1970.0602.1 may still be thought uncertain. A further context for the presentation of a seat has yet to be established.
The presentation of a seat occurs when, after determining where and to whom to preach the First Sermon, the Buddha went on a begging round at Benares and then directed his steps to the Deer Garden at Sarnath where the five bhadravargīya ascetics, once his companions in mortification of the flesh, saw him coming. Since he had abandoned their joint quest for salvation, they first wished to deny him all honour and welcome, but as he approached their resistance left them and one took his bowl and over-robe, another offered him a seat, yet another a footstool and another water for his feet.
- Not on display
- 1.Grey schist, broken and with soil incrustation.
2.Top flat and smooth with cramp mortise open to back and leading to right; left side irregularly broken; right side, where undamaged, flat and sloping inwards to back.
3.Bottom partly flat and smooth.
5.Front curved in section and with two round pinholes from front to back made or enlarged in modern times.
- Associated events
- Associated Event: First Sermon of the Buddha
- Acquisition date
- Registration number