Interesting and very early buddhist stone Lidded reliquary jar, India, Gandhara culture, ca. 1st. century BC.
These rare Jars finely formed with a raised knob on the lid and engraved with lotus flowers. According to religious texts, the historical Buddha Shayamuni was cremated after his death and his ashes distributed between eight reliquaries. These were placed in eight hemispherical mounds known as stupas. In the third century B.C. the north Indian ruler, King Ashoka, is reputed to have opened these monuments and further subdivided the ashes between a larger number of stupas. This was regarded as an act of great piety as it enabled many more believers to have access to the relics. Buddhism spread to Gandhara from the Ganges basin in northern India in the second century B.C. In the following centuries many religious sites in Gandhara claimed to possess relics of the Buddha and they became important pilgrimage destinations, visited by devotees from all over Asia, especially China.
These vessels may have contained relics as well as other small offerings such as glass beads or coins. Such containers were often donated to monastic foundations by lay followers as a means to earn merit and generate good karma.
Size: 68 mm. high and 51 mm. wide.
Ex. Old Danish Private Collection