Tile with Impressed Figures of Emaciated Ascetics and Couples Behind Balconies
India (ancient kingdom of Kashmir, Harwan)
H. 16 in. (40.6 cm); W. 13 1/4 in. (33.6 cm); D. 1 5/8 in. (4.1 cm)
Gift of Cynthia Hazen Polsky, 1987
Not on view
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: Three-character inscription in center of tile in Kharosthi (numeral placement mark)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Pala-Sena Period," 2007.