Crossbar from a Stupa Railing (Primary Title)

Unknown (Artist)

ca. 100 BC
red sandstone
Bharhut, Madhya Pradesh, India
Overall: 21 1/4 × 21 1/2 × 6 in. (53.98 × 54.61 × 15.24 cm)
Carved on both sides with a blooming lotus medallion, this sandstone slab is a crossbar from the fence-like railing that surrounded a Buddhist stupa. Solid hemispherical mounds, stupas were built to commemorate the Buddha after he died in the 5th century BC. This fragment probably belonged to the railing around the famous Central Indian Sunga-period stupa at Bharhut, the posts of which were joined by three crossbars ornamented with circular medallions. The most prevalent motif on these medallions was the lotus flower, an auspicious symbol of birth, life, and purity. The construction of the Bharhut railing was financed by people from all walks of life; the inscription along the lower edge of this railing names the donor of this particular crossbar.
Shunga period
Robert A. and Ruth W. Fisher Fund
Dye, Joseph M. The Arts of India: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. London: Philipp Wilson, 2001. (cat. no. 3, pp. 84-86)
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

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