Sculpture pieces excavated from the Stupa at Bharhut: lengths of coping from the south-east quadrant 10031497
Photographer: Beglar, Joseph David
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of some sculpture pieces excavated from the stupa at Bharhut taken by Joseph David Beglar in 1874. In this photograph we can observe coping from the south-east quadrant of the railing at Bharhut. The exact date that a stupa was first erected at this site is not known, however, by the time the railing was added in the latter half of the second century BC, Bharhut had been established as a Buddhist place of worship for centuries. At this stage, the stupa complex consisted of a hemispherical dome, encircled by an inner and an outer railing or vedika. Evidence from inscriptions shows that the construction of the railing was funded by donors from all over India, therefore Bharhut was known and important to people from a wide geographical area. The railing depicted narratives such as stories from Buddha's life, the purpose of which would have been two fold: firstly to decorate a sacred place and secondly to help the religion appeal to an often illiterate, popular audience.
The reliefs on the bottom coping represent a leogryph; a scene from the Sujata Gohuto jataka. The coping shows the story of a Bodhisattva who tried to feed a dead cow with grass, in an attempt to console his father about the death of the Bodhisattva's grandfather. The next story shown is an episode from the Jataka known as the Cat and Cock. The last scene shows a character from the story, Asadha, her parent lying on the ground with jackals nearby. Unfortunately most of the pictures on the top piece of coping are not clearly identified.