Reliquary(?) with Scenes from the Life of Buddha

Date: ca. 10th century

Culture: India (Jammu & Kashmir, ancient kingdom of Kashmir) or Pakistan

Medium: Bone with traces of color and gold paint

Dimensions: H. 5 3/8 in. (13.6 cm); W. 4 3/8 in. (11.1 cm); D. 2 9/16 in. (6.5 cm)

Classification: Sculpture

Credit Line: Gift of John and Evelyn Kossak, The Kronos Collections, 1985

Accession Number: 1985.392.1


Clearly the product of extraordinarily sophisticated and technically skilled workshops, eighth-century carved ivories from Kashmir are rare. Created from an approximately triangular section of bone, believed to be from an elephant, this remarkable piece testifies to the continuation of skills extending the tradition by at least a century. The object, with three scenes depicted on its sides, was probably part of a reliquary. The first two scenes show the miraculous birth of Siddhartha, later to become the Buddha, and his temptation as he meditated at Bodh Gaya immediately prior to becoming the Buddha. The third scene, clearly the focus of the carving, shows a rare representation of a crowned and jeweled Buddha seated cross-legged on a lion throne.