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Tile with Impressed Figures of Emaciated Ascetics and Couples Behind Balconies

Date:
5th–6th century
Culture:
India (ancient kingdom of Kashmir, Harwan)
Medium:
Terracotta
Dimensions:
H. 16 in. (40.6 cm); W. 13 1/4 in. (33.6 cm); D. 1 5/8 in. (4.1 cm)
Classification:
Sculpture
Credit Line:
Gift of Cynthia Hazen Polsky, 1987
Accession Number:
1987.424.26
  • Description

    These tiles are known to have 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. In fact, they are more readily understood within the Hindu Shaivite tradition. As this mixture of Buddhist and Hindu imagery is also observed at other contemporary sites in Afghanistan and west India, these tiles appear to be part of a larger exchange that perhaps occurred in relation to the emergence of Esoteric, or Vajrayana, Buddhism. Numerals in the Kharoshthi script have been incised into the tiles, presumably as an aid to their placement.

  • See also
    What
    Where
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
38243

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