Bharhut Stupa

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British Architecture                                                                                                         

Yakshi Figure at Bharhut

The stupa of Bharhut is between Allahabad and Jabalpur situated in the erstwhile Nagod state of Madhya Pradesh. It was probably built around 150 B.C. The site was discovered by sir Alexander Cunningham in 1873. there are hardly any remains at the site now. Some of the remains of this stupa are kept in the Indian Museum in Calcutta. 

The railings of the stupa are carved. These posts, railing, capping stones and gateways, all fashioned in deep red sandstone, once surrounded a stupa. The remarkable precision of the carvings and liveliness of the figures, narrative scenes and decorative themes testify to the vitality of India's early artistic traditions. Many of the Bharhut posts are carved with yakshis which protrude in past relief; they stand in attitudes of devotion upon ganas or clutch branches of the tree. Here too are royal devotees, riders on horses and elephants, and even one example of a figure in foreign dress. 

Other carved panels depict Buddhist narratives, among them the dream of Maya; celestials celebrating Buddha's enlightenment, the wprship of Buddha's throne and the Bodhi tree; elephants paying homage to the Buddha throne; Naga king worshipping the throne and adoration of the wheel; and stupa in worship. Railing medallions display a variety of lotus design, sometimes incorporating in yaksha busts; other themes include Lakshmi bathed by elephants, scenes of everyday village life, deer, elephants and peacocks. 

Of particular interest are the illustration of Jataka legend, complete with identifying labels: for instance, the Mahakapi Jataka, in which the Bodhisattva as a monkey carries his followers across the river. These and other scenes are characterized by dense compositions, with figures and animals in a detailed landscape.

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