'Relic Series. Plate.2. Situation of the Chamber: and the style of the relics found in Stupa B. Sanchi.'
Artist: Maisey, Frederick Charles (1825-1892)
Medium: Pen and ink on paper
Pen and ink and wash drawing by Frederick Charles Maisey of the relics found in the Stupa No 2 at Sanchi, from an album of 60 drawings dated 1847-1854.
The Buddhist site of Sanchi is of outstanding importance for the number and variety of its monuments and sculptures. The numerous preserved Buddhist structures, mostly stupas (Buddhist hemispherical monuments often containg relics), were built between the third century BC and the sixth to seventh centuries AD. The foundation of this monastic centre were laid by the emperor Ashoka (reigned circa 269-232 BC) who built the original Stupa No.1 and erected a monolithic pillar in the third century BC near the south gateway. Stupa No.2 dates from the second century BC. The monument is important as it contained the relics of several Buddhist teachers. In 'The Bhilsa Topes' of 1966, Alexander Cunningham wrote, 'After an hour's labour in clearing away the loose stones from the middle of the breach, we began carefully to sink a shaft down the centre of the Tope. In three hours more removal...disclosed a small chamber containing a stone box... The chamber was not in the centre of the building, but two feet to the westward of it...On removing [the relic-box] ...from the chamber, we found the following inscriptions...On removing the lid of the stone box, we found inside four small caskets, or boxes of mottled steatite...which...contained small portions of burnt human bone, and each was inscribed with the names of the holy men whose ashes were enshrined therein....From this we may conclude that the date of the Tope cannot be earlier than about 220 B.C...'.