Niche with the Seated Bodhisattva Shakyamuni Flanked by Devotees and an Elephant

Date: ca. 4th–5th century

Culture: Afghanistan (Hadda)

Medium: Stucco

Dimensions: H. 16 9/16 in. (42 cm); W. 18 1/4 in. (46.4 cm); D. 10 in. (25.4 cm)

Classification: Sculpture

Credit Line: Purchase, Walter Burke Gift, and Anonymous Gift, Rogers Fund, and Gift of George D. Pratt, by exchange, 2005

Accession Number: 2005.314


The lunette embellished the high base of a Buddhist stupa (relic mound) and would have been viewed from below during ritual circumnambulation. Shakyamuni is shown as a bodhisattva wearing the jeweled turban and textiles of a prince. The naturalistic anatomy and the complex classical treatment of interacting devotees seem remarkable given that the relief was sculpted about the fifth century—long after classical traditions in the West had declined.