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Bimaran reliquary
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This gold reliquary, an elaborate container for holding holy relics, was found in the XIX century in a stone box with an inscription stating that it contained some of the actual bones of the Buddha. However, both its lid and contents were missing. The reliquary was deposited in a stupa with pearls, beads and four coins dating to about AD 50 and is a crucial object in the study of the history of Buddhism.

If the reliquary is from the same period as the coins, then it is the best-preserved example of goldwork to survive from early India and its decorative frieze contains one of the earliest depictions of the Buddha. In the frieze, framed by arcades, the Buddha is flanked by Indra and Brahma, gods of early Indian origin. Also depicted is a worshipper, possibly a bodhisattva – a semi0divine being who has attained enlightment but remains in the world in order to help the non-enlightened.

Bimaran reliquary


From stupa 2 at Bimaran, Gandhara, I century AD.
Ht 6,7 cm.



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