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Limestone panel depicting the Buddhapada
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In early Buddhism, images of the historical Buddha as a human figure were not considered appropriate. Instead the Buddha was represented through symbols such as those on this relief, which depicts the Buddhapada (Buddha’s footprints). The “lotus feet” of gods and gurus are still revered in India today, and worshippers are expected to have bare feet in temples, shrines and private houses. The Buddha’s feet can be identified by their characteristic toes of equal length.

In Buddhist sculpture, divine status is indicated by auspicious signs or special symbols. On this panel, at the centre of each foot, is a finely spoked dharmachakra (Wheel of the Law, set in motion when the Buddha gave his First Sermon). An important change took place in Buddhist art in the centuries after this image was made, as the first images of the Buddha in human form began to be created.

Limestone panel depicting the Buddhapada

From the Great Stupa at Amaravati, Guntur District, Andhra Pradesh, India, I century BC.
Ht 67,5 cm.
Transferred from the India Museum.

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