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The Distribution of the Relics.

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Title (object)

    • The Distribution of the Relics.
  • Description

    Stupa drum panel showing the Distribution of the Relics. The table on large, elaborate, turned legs dominates the panel, a densely worked textile hangs from it and a plain undulating textile covers the table top for the reception of globular reliquaries with large lids and with circular knobs on top. Behind is the bust of an old man with rounded and protruding eyes, a moustache and a beard ending in bands of curls; the damaged hair may have had a chignon of two superimposed coils. An uttarīya appears wound round his left shoulder. Beside him, but higher and smaller, a turbaned and moustached figure, presumably a claimant, with necklace, earrings and uttarīya stands with both arms down his side. Vestiges, apparently chiselled away, of other figures, also presumably claimants, are ranged behind the table with another, much like the first claimant, in three-quarter view beyond it. Beside each table leg stands a moustached spearman with crested turban, earrings, collar, tight trousers, shod feet and sleeved tunic or jacket, in one case open at the front. All the figures have rounded and protruding eyes, emphasised chins and fixed expressions.
    The textile hanging from the table has vertical rows of blown flowers, scrolling, diagonally bisected squares, heart-shapes, beaded and hatched bands; the turned corners show similar vertical rows behind, and at the corners are bushy tassels. This attention to textile design, often in marked relief, has already been noted, with references, as a feature of carving from Swat valley sites such as Butkara I.2.
    The framed female figure is bare to the waist and has one knee flexed forward; one hand is on the hip, the other holding a pendent branch of a tree above her. She wears a wreath headdress, perhaps a twisted roll of cloth, to one side with a long loop of hair projecting through it, earrings, a necklace, bracelets, double anklets and a paridhāna with a narrow fall of drapery in the middle and a loop on one side, while a long scarf billows in an are over her upper arms and behind her and falls abundantly beside her legs. Her features are treated like those on the rest of the panel. Below each breast three shallow grooves are presumably flesh folds.
    The framing fillet below is plain.


  • School/style

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1stC-2ndC
  • Production place

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 22.5 centimetres
    • Width: 37.5 centimetres
    • Diameter: 5.5 centimetres
  • Curator's comments

    Zwalf 1996:
    The distribution of the relics falls into a shorter cycle within the Death cycle and presupposes them to have been claimed with threats of hostilities by eight parties who agreed to submit themselves to the arbitration of a brāhmaṇa. He is usually behind a table, which can be small or large, standing in the middle or to one side, the latter usually when the table is small and few claimants are shown, but he can be central with a small table and few claimants or central with a large table and a row of claimants flanking him. The claimants sometimes hold reliquaries, while on the table may be relics made into balls (according to Foucher their size is one droṇa) or caskets, as above. They can number the full eight or fewer; the balls are often cross-hatched or suggest grape bunches or blackberries. In this form they may represent the clay balls into which Hindu remains are still embedded for the asthikṣepa ceremony, but an enveloping mesh or floral garland seems also possible. The presence of guards is common to other scenes of the Distribution and may reflect the threat of hostilities over the relics.Zwalf 1985

    After the Buddha's cremation a dispute arose over the division of his remains, and hostilities were prevented by the Brahmin Droṇa who distributed the relics. Droṇa stands behind a table and eight globular and lidded reliquary caskets with one figure left from what may have been a row of claimants. The table, covered with an elaborate textile, is flanked by armed guards.


  • Bibliography

    • Srinivasan 1997 110 bibliographic details
    • Zwalf 1996 232 bibliographic details
    • Zwalf 1985 28 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Exhibition history


    Buddhism: Art and Faith (BM 1985)

  • Condition

    1.Light grey schist, broken and chipped. 2.Top and bottom, where undamaged, flat and with rectangular tenon to either side; left side flat, damaged right side rebated in front, both sides slightly sloping inward to back. 3.Back flat with some broad, shallow chisel grooves and on left smooth vertical rebate for adjacent slab. 4.Mason's mark in left-hand corner on framing fillet. 5.Curved in section.

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Associated events

    • Associated Event: Division of Relics
  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department


  • Registration number


COMPASS Title: Schist relief panel depicting the division of the Buddha's relics


COMPASS Title: Schist relief panel depicting the division of the Buddha's relics

Image description



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Object reference number: RRI10215

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