Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas

Welcome to the Spencer Collection

bas relief stone fragment from a Buddhist stupa
  • Pakistan
  • bas relief stone fragment from a Buddhist stupa, 500s–700s CE
  • Where object was made: Gandhara, Swat Valley, Pakistan
  • schist
  • Object Height/Width/Depth: curved 10 x 34 x 4 cm
    Object Height/Width/Depth: curved 3 7/8 x 13 3/8 x 1 9/16 in
  • Gift of Joseph R. Wilson, BS Engineering 1947, MS Engineering 1957
  • Not on display
  • 2006.0035
Description

Curved rectangular fragment from a circular structure, possibly a Buddhist stupa. The fragment contains two narrative scenes separated by Corinthian columns. On the right is an elephant nudging a woman in the center, accompanied by a female attendant. It is possibly a combination of the miraculous conception of Śākyamuni and Queen Maya giving birth to Śākyamuni from her side. The raising arm of the woman (Queen Maya) is a gesture particularly associated with this episode of the life story of Śākyamuni, although in this case the baby Buddha is missing from the scene. On the left, a man is dragging a small elephant by its tail, while two female figures stand behind the elephant. It refers to another episode of the life story of Śākyamuni, which tells that Śākyamuni flung aside the dead elephant that was killed and put in his way by his cousin, Devadatta. On top of both scenes is a band of lotus petals. The scenes are carved in bas relief, but the details are severely worn.

The bas-relief fragment contains two distinct, but probably related scenes, separated by Corinthian columns. On the right, an elephant seems to be nudging a woman in the center, who is accompanied by a female attendant. The left scene is comprised of three figures and a small elephant. Two females stand on the right behind the elephant, a bare-chested male stands on the left, feet firmly planted, grasping the elephant by the tail and pulling it along. This scene seems to represent the well-known story of Sundaranda dragging the elephant away after Devadatta slayed it, which is generally shown in a separate scene.