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reliquary

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1867,0427.2

  • Description

    Bird, probably a goose, carved in rock crystal.

    The bird was found inside BM 1867.0427.1 and contained an inscription (lost). The globular hollow body is open at the top with a rim of rounded section except at the back where it may have been partly flattened in antiquity, perhaps for a lid; a thin hole in the centre of the junction of the tail with the body may have served to attach it. The head is joined to the body by a short neck, and the head has protruding eyes and a broad bill. At the sides projections of oval outline with a cross-hatched band forward and with horizontal grooves to the back (that is, coverts and flight feathers) represent wings, and the tail has regular straight grooves at right angles to the body. The underside is clumsily pierced with two small holes at each side, with local damage to the surface, perhaps to attach legs.

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  • School/style

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1stC
  • Production place

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 3.8 centimetres
    • Diameter: 3.4 centimetres (maximum)
    • Length: 10 centimetres (max.)
    • Width: 6.9 centimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

        inscription
      • Inscription Script

        Kharoshthi
      • Inscription Comment

        The goose once contained a gold strip bearing an inscription, now lost (see Bibliographic field for details). The object itself is not inscribed. The text states that a relic of the Buddha was placed in the goose reliquary for the benefit of Sira's parents in a future existence.
  • Curator's comments

    Zwalf 1996:
    For the discovery and findspot see BM 1867.0427.1. The goose is said to have lain inverted on the central cone of BM 1867.0427.1 (Loewenthal, 1861: 413: Mitra. 1862: 176). For apparently comparable finds see Pearse, 1865: 113, who states that they are common; Cunningham, 1871: 131, 142. For the inscription see Konow, 1929: 83-6 and pl. XVII. I with references and discussion of the goose as symbol for the soul. For a further comment in this connection see Kottkamp. 1992: 64-5 and fn.Zwalf 1985

    This hollowed goose has a circular body with projections forming the head, neck, wings and tail. The wings and tail have incised lines and cross-hatching; the bottom of the body is pierced with two pairs of small holes. When found the goose contained an inscribed gold plate, now lost, which has been translated as meaning that a relic of the Buddha was placed in the goose by one Sirā for her parents' benefit in a future existence.

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  • Bibliography

    • Zwalf 1985 5 bibliographic details
    • Zwalf 1996 657 bibliographic details
    • Koezuka (1994) 74 bibliographic details
    • Errington 1987 p.431 bibliographic details
    • Konow 1929 Pp. 83-6, pl. XVII.1 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Exhibition history

    Exhibited:

    Buddhism: Art and Faith (BM, 1985) 1994, Kyoto National Museum, Masterpieces of Buddhist and Hindu Sculpture from the British Museum
    1994, Tokyo, Tobu Museum of Art, Masterpieces of Buddhist and Hindu Sculpture from the British Museum 2001 29 Jul-2 Sept, Nara, National Museum; The Aesthetics of Buddhist Relic Worship

  • Condition

    1.Crystal, chipped, cracked and discoloured. 2.Large internal fault or crack from neck to one side shows yellowish discoloration. 3.Proper left wing chipped and end of wing now lost.

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Associated places

    • Used at: Taxila term details
    • (Asia,South Asia,Pakistan,Punjab,Rawalpindi District,Taxila (Gandhara))
  • Acquisition date

    1867

  • Acquisition notes

    Purchased from M. Caspari.

  • Department

    Asia

  • Registration number

    1867,0427.2

  • Additional IDs

    • As1867,0427.2 (duplicate record deleted)
A rock-crystal reliquary in the shape of a goose.

A rock-crystal reliquary in the shape of a goose.

Image description

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Object reference number: RRI743

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