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.
Fragment of a carved relief of a narrative scene of the birth of Buddha, grey schist, 2nd century AD, Swat Valley.
Height: 0.295 m, Length: 0.23 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. This is no. 142 in Barger's lists.
This fragment shows only a small section of a scene depicting the Birth of Buddha. From the right, Maya's right arm appears in the fragment, grasping the branch of a sala tree. Five bracelets adorn her wrist. From under her elbow, the head of the Buddha, now destroyed, emerged surrounded with a tiny nimbus. To the left the head of Indra in profile gazes at the child. He wears an elaborate turban with a cockade on top, a circular earring and a drooping moustache. A nimbus with an incised margin is carved behind his head. Behind Indra, on a higher level the head and upper torso of a turbaned figure appears with his index and the little finger of his left hand into his mouth, in a gesture of amazement. His right arm was formerly raised, but is now destroyed, and held the end of his uttariya which he waves energetically above his head. In the extreme upper left hand corner there is a drum.
The fragment is carved in high relief, and the rear has lines of broad horizontal chisel marks which bear traces of beige-coloured mortar. The top side of the panel shows the schist is stained with a reddish colour, suggesting that there are veins of iron running through it.