Harald Ingholt, Gandharan Art in Pakistan, Pantheon Books, New York, 1957, p.85, no 121 Isao Kurita: Gandharan Art:the Buddha's life story, vol 1, Tokyo, 1988, illus. no.462. For other versions of this scene see pp.221-224
Given by Major Robert Grenville Gayer-Anderson Pasha and Colonel T.G. Anderson, C.M.G., D.S.O.
3rd century (made)
Relief panel with ten figures, grey schist, 3rd century AD, Gandhara..
Height: 38.5 cm, Width: 27 cm
The relief was formerly part of the Gayer-Anderson collection. The carving was given by Major Robert Grenville Gayer-Anderson Pasha, (1881-1945), the Orientalist, and his twin brother, Colonel Thomas Gayer Gayer-Anderson, who were both noted collectors. The major, known as 'John', spent most of his adult life in Egypt and only returned to England to live with his brother due to bad health in 1942 at which time this gift with a number of other Indian artefacts was made. Colonel Thomas Gayer Gayer-Anderson made a notable collection of Indian paintings, which were largely collected during his military service at Pune (then named Poona) on the General Staff 1926-1930. This carving and the other Indian artefacts donated at this time probably were also collected during this period.
The narrative in the relief bears similarities to a relief from Jamal Garhi, in Peshawar ( No 1885), which is described with an illustration by Ingholt, !957. He describes how the youngest pregnant wife of a certain king was buried alive following a conspiracy hatched by the jealous elder wives. Such were the merits of both the young wife and her unborn child from his former lives, that she gave birth to him after her death. The child was able to suckle at her breast and lived for three years in the tomb until it became ruinous enough for him to escape from it, whereupon he lived for a further three years alone in the jungle until the Buddha came upon him and made him a monk.
The left-hand portion of a carved panel with ten figures in relief. A naked boy, Sudaya, standing in anjalimudra on the right and the same boy crouching inside an arched tomb near his dead mother provide the key to this narrative scene. On the high base, on the right one can see the toes of a foot which may belong to the Buddha to whom all these remaining figures are facing. Inside the funeral monument Sudaya is crouching on the floor with his right hand on the body of his dead mother stretched out before him, with her dishevelled hair tumbling over the edge of the base. Behind the tomb stands the erect figure of a turbaned and bejewelled prince holding the end of his uttariya which is looped round his body. He appears to be carrying a bunch of flowers in its lower fold , which Ackermann suggests may identify him as the converted father of Sudaya. A further turbaned figure stands behind him next to a robed figure with curls and ushnisha, who may be a bodhisattva. There are seven further figures in two registers making a variety of gesticulations. Only two of these retain their faces.