Two Lotuses, from the Bharhut Stupa
ca. 1st century B.C.
India (Madhya Pradesh)
H. 14 7/8 in. (37.8 cm); W. 21 1/2 in. (54.6 cm); D. 2 1/2 in. (6.3 cm)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Earl Morse, 1972
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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