This square relief panel has a narrative scene carved on a plain plinth. It shows the young prince Siddhartha seated in a two-wheeled cart pulled by a pair of rams with ornamented harnesses attached to a yoke. The young prince, who is distinguished by an aureole behind his head with his right hand raised in a gesture resembling the abhaya mudra, is accompanied by four schoolmates and four attendants. He is bejewelled with a heavy necklace (kantha) and cylindrical earrings with his hair tied up in a top-knot. The cart is controlled by a figure in front of the young prince who pulls tightly on the reins while walking to one side. He has a shaven head with a tufted fringe on top, and a long lock hanging down either side of the face. Behind him, a monk stands with hands clasped in worship (anjali mudra), while beside him, a boy, with short, curly hair cut in Parthian style, holds a folding chair. Another youth, again with a tufted fringe and two side-locks, stands in front of the rams, holding a writing board and ink pot, probably the belongings of Siddhartha. Writing boards and variously shaped ink pots are also held by the four youths in the upper background They are rendered on a larger scale than the other figures, filling the upper part of the relief. All the figures, apart from the Bodhisattva and monk wear a sleeveless long tunic with a decorative seam, probably a fastening, on the left shoulder. The school companions wear, in addition, bangles, collars and earrings of the conch shell form. The first and third youths from the left have similar hairstyles with their hair rising in tresses pulled up into a top-knot while the one on the right hand side has an apparent shaven head with a ponytail pulled forward over the top of his head ending in a knot on his forehead. The remaining youth has a curling fringe of hair which encircles his head rising to a top-knot. The up-turning branches of a sala tree fills the top right hand corner of the panel.
This charming relief sculpture depicts the future Buddha Shakyamuni as the young Prince Siddhartha. Here he is travelling to school in a cart being drawn by two rams, accompanied by his classmates.
A sala tree in the upper right suggests that this scene takes place in a grove. The prince has his right hand raised in greeting. Although this event precedes his Buddhahood, or even his renunciation, he is robed as a Buddha, with a topknot and a halo, yet still adorned with the earrings denoting his princely status.
The entourage is followed by a monk with his hands clasped in veneration (‘anjali-mudra’). Nearby a boy with short, curly hair cut in Parthian style holds a folding chair. Another youth, again with a tufted fringe and two side-locks, stands in front of the rams. He is holding a writing board and inkpot which probably belong to Siddhartha. Boards and variously shaped inkpots are also held by each of the four youths in the background, thereby confirming that the panel illustrates the young prince riding to school.
This is a rare subject in Gandharan art. It has been executed with considerable skill to create a scene which both the Buddhist lay devotee and the community of monks could empathise with and enjoy.