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Sculpture pieces excavated from the Stupa at Bharhut: lengths of coping from the southern gateway

Sculpture pieces excavated from the Stupa at Bharhut: lengths of coping from the southern gateway

Photographer: Beglar, Joseph David

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1874

Shelfmark: Photo 1003/(1500)

Item number: 10031500

Genre: Photograph

Photograph of some sculpture pieces excavated from the stupa at Bharhut taken by Joseph David Beglar in 1874. This photograph shows lengths of coping which would have adorned the southern gateway at Bharhut. The date that a stupa was first erected at this site is not known, however, by the time the gateways were added in the early part of the first 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 which had been added in the latter part of the second century BC. The railing had openings in each of the four cardinal directions and about half a century after its addition, the openings were adorned with the addition of gateways. Each of these consisted of two pillars and three elaborately carved beams.

In this photograph, we can view the interior side of some coping from the southern gateway. The top part of coping represents a sage seated, addressing a woman. Another female figure is pictured leaving the scene. The next scene depicts a man and two monkeys in a forest. The first relief of the bottom part of coping is in very bad conditions and only the top of the Gaja-Lakshmi is preserved. The second is an illustration of a story called the Mahakapi-jataka. This narrates how a Bodhisattva, as king of the monkeys, rescued a man from falling in a precipice. A scene in which the man tried to kill the monkey by hitting his head with a stone is visible on the right of the relief. The next relief shows jewels growing from lotus plants. The last scene illustrates a scene from the Mahabodhi-jataka. A king had ordered a Bodhisattva to be killed who was then warned by the barking of the king’s dog. When the king arrived at his hut he found the Bodhisattva ready to leave with his possessions, the staff, the antelope’s skin, the umbrella, the bowl and the cloak. The king and the queen are also represented next to the dog.

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