Relief of Buddha’s descent from the Trayastrimsha Heaven

This stupa relief panel would once have been part of a series chronicling the life of the Buddha. It shows the descent of the Buddha from the Heaven of the Thirty-three gods (Trayastrimsa), where he had gone to preach the law to his mother, Mayadevi. Three staircases are seen in the central section with the Buddha depicted at three stages of his descent flanked by the Hindu gods Brahma and Indra. There are a number of extant examples of this theme in early Indian art, and it reveals the divine and transcendental nature bestowed on the historical Buddha by the assumption that he can move effortlessly between earth and heaven.

Date/Period
3rd/4th century
Region
Pakistan, ancient region of Gandhara
Dimension
Gross Measurement: 55.2 x 51.2 x 9 cm
Accession No.
2014-00946
Material
Schist
Collection of
Asian Civilisations Museum
Category
Sculpture