The Buddha and the Sacred Site

Narrative Panels with Scenes from the Buddha's Life

  • 5
  • Pakistan (ancient Gandhara)
  • 2nd century
  • Gray schist
  • H. 30 in. (76 cm)
  • The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Maryland, Gift of John and Berthe Ford, 25.259

This vertical relief was probably part of a false gable of a stupa. In the upper register, the Buddha is depicted in the gesture of teaching, a reference to the Buddha's first sermon at Sarnath. He turns toward a man in a turban who clasps his hands and bows his head in reverence. In the lower register, the Buddha presents a lotus-like serpent to a bearded ascetic holding an alms bowl, whose bent back and knees communicate his awe of the Buddha's miraculous powers. The deference shown to the Buddha in both scenes suggests that the relief may have served a proselytizing function during the early spread of Buddhism.

PHOTO CREDIT: © The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Maryland

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