Barger, E. and Wright, P., ‘Excavations in Swat and Explorations in the Oxus Territories of Afghanistan, a detailed report of the 1938 expedition’, Memoirs of the Archaeological Survey of India, vol. 64, Calcutta, 1941.
Curved frieze with scenes of archery contest, dead elephant, grey schist, 1st century Gumbat, Swat Valley.
Height: 0.205 m, Length: 0.365 m
Acquired from Evert Barger, Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of Bristol and Philip Wright, V&A Museum, as part of the collection of finds excavated during their expedition to the Swat valley in 1938. The panel is No. 71 in Barger's lists.
This curved frieze panel shows two scenes. On the lower right a figure of prince Siddhartha, seen in profile to the left, wearing Iranian dress, riding a stockily built horse with his back slightly turned as he bends the bow aiming at a target hung in a tree Two admiring figures are behind.
The scene on the left of the lower frieze is badly damaged. It shows two incidents in the story of Devadatta and the elephant. On the right we recognize the front of the elephant's body as it enters through the city gate. The head is lowered, and its trunk hangs down to the ground between the legs. In front of the animal stands Devadatta grabbing the elephant with his left hand. Next we see Nanda dragging the dead beast (which emerges behind Devadatta) against the city wall. The two scenes are divided by rectangular panels enclosing squat pillars with capitals.
On the upper scene we see two figures on the right carrying some object. In the centre a figure of the Buddha in profile sits on a low cushion-covered base raising his hand in the act of teaching. Behind his head a nimbus in profile is seen. A youth stands in front raising his hand. Behind the Buddha there is a figure of Vajrapani who is seated on the corner of the Buddha's seat, holding a large thunderbolt in his uplifted right hand. The third scene on the right we see two ascetics by the side of a rustic hut in front of the Buddha who is sitting on a rock holding an alms bowl on his left knee. Behind him sits Vajrapani next to a small tree. The figures on this left side are badly damaged.
The registers are divided by a straight garland of laurel leaves with a further architrave at the top decorated with upstanding petal motifs.