Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Tile with Impressed Figures of Emaciated Ascetics and Couples behind Balconies and Ganders

Date:
5th–6th century
Culture:
India (ancient kingdom of Kashmir, Harwan)
Medium:
Terracotta
Dimensions:
H. 20 in. (50.8 cm)
Classification:
Sculpture
Credit Line:
Gift of Evelyn Kossak, The Kronos Collections, 1995
Accession Number:
1995.570.6
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 236
This tile decorated the courtyard of an apsidal temple at Harwan, in Kashmir. As this site has a Buddhist affiliation, the presence of emaciated nude ascetics is not easy to explain; they are more readily understood within the Hindu Shaivite tradition. As this mixture of Buddhist and Hindu imagery is also found at other contemporary sites in Afghanistan and western India, the tile appears to be part of a larger exchange that perhaps occurred in relation to the emergence of Esoteric, or Vajrayana, Buddhism. Numerals in Kharoshthi script have been incised into the tile, presumably to aid its placement.
Inscription: Two-character Kharosthi inscription above head of left ascetic (numeral placement mark)
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