Architectural motifs often appear on ritual objects such as incense burners, lamps and shrines. A whole building could be shown in miniature, but often only parts of a building such as a gateway or roof might be incorporated to decorate the ritual object.
Stand for a cross, in the shape of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Late 12th century
Height 18 cm x width 16 cm x depth 9 cm
Museum no. 2169-1855
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is said to have been built on the spot where Jesus was buried. The chimney-like aperture on the roof of this model church would have supported a bronze cross. The box below the church would have contained holy relics.
Probably made in China for use in Tibet or Mongolia
18th or 19th century
Copper, partly gilt, with turquoises
Height 39 cm x diameter 20 cm
Museum no. IM.119-1911
Influenced by Chinese architecture, this prayer wheel may have been a gift from a Chinese dignitary to a senior Tibetan monk. The spindle at the top turns the drum, which contains a roll of paper on which prayers are written. Rotating this brought spiritual benefit.
Model of the Mahabodhi temple at Bodhgaya
Nepal or Tibet
Wood, polychromed and gilded
Height 9 cm x width 9 cm x depth 14 cm
Museum no. IS.50-1995
Purchased with the aid of an anonymous donor
Although now missing its upper parts, this model is similar to the stone Indian model of the same temple. Nepalese stylistic elements, however, suggest that this model is likely to have been made in Nepal or Tibet by Nepali craftsmen, not at the site of the temple in India.
Model of a Kond thatched building
By members of the Kutiya Kond community
Belugunta, Ganjam, East-Central India
Metal lattice strips over a clay body
Height 10 cm x width 8 cm x depth 8 cm
Museum no. IM.113-1916
The building may represent a shrine to a local deity or possibly a village granary. It would have been used for religious purposes. The method of manufacture with strips of metal cast in a lattice pattern over the clay core is common among the Kond community, who live in remote, hilly areas of East-Central India.