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Elephants carring Buddha's Relics
Acc. No. 68.168
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

This frieze represents one of the outstanding examples of Shunga style of sculpture with its characteristic low relief.

History of the Object
This railling stone represents the last episode of Buddha's life. According to Mahapariniravana Sutta, just after the death of Buddha, the 8 ruling clans of North-Eastern India claimed his remains on grounds of kinship. To avoid war, Drona, a brahmin, suggested that the Buddha's relics be equally distributed amongst all the eight clans. The offer was accepted and the sacred relics were divdided and transported by the kings, amidst great pomp, to their various kingdoms, where Stupas were built to enshrine them. This frieze represents a royal procession with four caparisoned elephants, with the kings balancing the reliquary caskets, while driving the elephants yielding the lotus stem, known as 'Kalpavalli' or 'wish fulfilling stem', that turns into beautiful jewellery. The procession starts with dancers accompanied by female musicians playing on drums, castanets, and a harp. The Mallas celebrated the death of Buddha with dance and music, as he died at the age of eighty.

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Type
Sculpture 
Materials
Sandstone 
Measurements
28.5 x 266 x 9 cm 
Creator name
Unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
Satna, Madhya Pradesh 
Geography
India 
Time period
BCE 2nd century ~ BCE 2nd century 
Creation date
2nd Century BCE 
Function
Buddhism Rituals  
Acquisition
Purchased from Shri.B.P.Sharma, New Delhi  
Copyright
National Museum,New Delhi  
Acknowledgements
National Museum,New Delhi  
Owner
National Museum,New Delhi 
Museum
National Museum-New Delhi 
Credit line
National Museum,New Delhi  

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