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Two Lotuses, from the Bharhut Stupa

Period:
Shunga period
Date:
ca. 1st century B.C.
Culture:
India (Madhya Pradesh)
Medium:
Red sandstone
Dimensions:
H. 14 7/8 in. (37.8 cm); W. 21 1/2 in. (54.6 cm); D. 2 1/2 in. (6.3 cm)
Classification:
Sculpture
Credit Line:
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Earl Morse, 1972
Accession Number:
1972.215
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 234
These lotuses were part of a wish-fulfilling vine at the top of a high railing (vedika), which enclosed the sacred precinct of the Bharhut stupa (relic mound). This vedika was also embellished with some of the earliest reliefs illustrating past lives of the Buddha (jatakas), depictions of major life events, and local deities (yakshis and yakshas). The lotus is an auspicious symbol that alludes to the Buddha's enlightenment. The row of hanging bells at the bottom is likely a translation into stone of an earlier actual architectural embellishment.
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