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reliquary / electrotype

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Reilquary casket (replica); made in a copper alloy; inscribed.

    A replica of the so-called Kanishka reliquary, electroformed. On the lid is a seated Buddha flanked by figures of Brahmā and Indra; the sides of the casket carry a running garland support by puti and a standing king in central Asian dress.


  • School/style

  • Date

    • 100 (circa; the original object)
    • 20thC (replica)
  • Production place

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 19.2 centimetres
    • Diameter: 10.5 centimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Script

      • Inscription Position

        on the lid and outside body of the piece
      • Inscription Comment

        The inscription is a dedication to the Sarvastivadin Buddhist sect.
  • Curator's comments

    Zwalf 1985

    This reliquary, excavated from the presumed site of the famous 'stūpa' of Kaniṣka I, is generally supposed, also on the basis of the incomplete inscription, to be a deposit by that king, but the inscription, a dedication to the Sarvāstivādin sect, contains no date in Kaniṣka's era, as was once thought. The lid has haloed figures of the Buddha, Brahmā (right) and Indra (left); on the box are a standing personage in Kuṣāṇa dress, who has been taken for a beardless Kaniṣka, flanked by the personified sun and moon, and meditating Buddhas worshipped by haloed figures, perhaps Brahmā and Indra. Although the Buddha image appears of an early type and the style of the casket has been much discussed, its manufacture in Gandhara seems certain.


  • Bibliography

    • Zwalf 1985 8 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Exhibition history


    Buddhism: Art and Faith (BM 1985)

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition notes

    A copy of a piece now in the Peshawar Museum. At the request of the Peshawar Museum, the original object was conserved and two copies of it were made by the BM. One copy was kept in the BM (1880.270) as a reward for the work and the original and the second replica returned to Peshawar (NWFP, Pakistan) where they are to this day in the Museum there.

  • Department


  • Registration number


A replica of the 'Kanishka Reliquary', made in electrotype. On the lid are a seated Buddha flanked by Brahma and Indra. Inscribed.

A replica of the 'Kanishka Reliquary', made in electrotype. On the lid are a seated Buddha flanked by Brahma and Indra. Inscribed.

Image description



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Object reference number: RRI1553

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