The Buddha and the Sacred Site

Reliquary in the Shape of a Stupa (Relic Mound)

  • 15
  • Pakistan (ancient Gandhara)
  • Kushan period, ca. 4th–5th century
  • Bronze
  • H. 22 3/4 x W. 7 1/2 in. (57.8 x 19.1 cm)
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Donald J. Bruckmann, 1985, 1985.387a,b

This bronze reliquary was cast in separate parts using the lost-wax process. Portable metal or stone reliquaries in the shape of bowls, perfume jars, or small stupas were integral accessories of Gandharan Buddhist practice. This highly imaginative container was likely conceived to hold a relic of the Buddha on a shrine altar. Given the contents of other extant Gandharan reliquaries, various objects, such as gold foil, glass beads, and coins, were probably placed inside as votive offerings along with the body relic.

PHOTO CREDIT: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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