VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Votive tablets
RMV 04-398
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

Judging by the forms of the script, these objects probably date from between 750 and 1200 A.D., the period in which Buddhism flourished in North-East India and the region called Bangladesh today.

History of the Object
Votive tablets from North India, with stamped inscriptions in Nagari script. Two tablets also show a wheel positioned between two deer: the symbol for the setting in motion of the Buddhist teaching. This is the emblem used by many monasteries in North and North-East India. The tablets were made as offerings to be enshrined in stupas or in miniature stupas, and also to be distributed among the pilgrims who visited the monasteries. Votive tablets bearing seals of Indian monasteries are often found outside India itself. It is likely that pilgrims took them home with them as a memento of the monasteries they visited, and as protective charms. The inscriptions nearly always contain the ‘Ye dharma' formula, which summarises the principles of Buddhist teaching. The votive tablets have thus played a significant role in the transmission of Buddhist doctrine, and the spread of Buddhism all over Asia.

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Type
Other 
Materials
Clay (unfired) 
Measurements
1.3 x 3.9 x 3.9 cm and 0.9 x 2.2 x 2.3 cm 
Creator name
Unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
Mathura, North India 
Geography
Mathura, North India 
Time period
AD 8th century ~ AD 13th century 
Creation date
8th Century - 13th Century (Pala period) 
Function
Votive tablets were made as offerings to be enshrined in stupas or in miniature stupas, and also to be distributed among the pilgrims who visited the monasteries. 
Acquisition
 
Copyright
 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
State property, the Netherlands 
Museum
National Museum of Ethnology, Rijksmuseum Volkenkunde 
Credit line
National Museum of Ethnology, Leiden, the Netherlands 

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