Stone coping pieceOn display
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Stone coping piece
Date6th - 7th century AD (AD 501 - 700)
Material and technique
Dimensions35.5 x 79 x 31 cm approx. (height x width x depth)
No. of items
Transferred from the Indian Institute, University of Oxford.
Museum locationFirst floor | Gallery 32 | India from AD 600
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Bodhgaya in Bihar, where, towards the end of the 6th century B.C., the Buddha’s seated under a pīpal tree, achieved Illumination is probably the holiest of the places associated with the Buddha’s life [EAOS.3]. Over the exact spot now towers the Mahābodhi temple, but earlier shrines have stood there surrounded by the stone railings which in the early periods demarcated a sacred enceinte [see EA1983.24]. Portions of two railings remain, to the later of which the Ashmolean’s coping belonged. It was probably archaic when it was carved, its erection probably due to the presence of the older (2nd-1st century B.C.) railing already there.
On one side runs a series of lotus or spiral roundels, separated by what may be highly conventionalised thunderbolts (vajras) on the other, a peacock, its tail, as often happens in the Gupta period, breaking out into swirls of foliage precedes a makara [see EA1971.13]. A pair of geese faces in the opposite direction. All are favourites, throughout the ages, of classical Indian myth, literature and sculpture. The style is that of the late Gupta or early post-Gupta period.
In: Harle, J. C., and Andrew Topsfield, Indian Art in the Ashmolean Museum (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 1987)
Harle, J. C., and Andrew Topsfield, Indian Art in the Ashmolean Museum (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 1987), no. 29 on p. 22, p. 9, illus. p. 22
Ahuja, Naman, Art and Archaeology of Ancient India: Earliest Times to the Sixth Century (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2018), no. 122