Veneration of the Empty Throne. India, 100-200 AD. Museum no. IS 1039-1883

Veneration of the Empty Throne. India, 100-200 AD. Museum no. IS 1039-1883

Veneration of the Empty Throne
North India (Mathura, Uttar Pradesh)
100-200 AD
Sandstone, carved relief
Museum no. IS 1039-1883
Given by F A Turton

This red sandstone carving probably once formed part of a temple or shrine. It depicts the adoration of the empty throne, with a Buddhist emblem on it. The emblem can be variously interpreted as a throne cushion, a discarded turban headdress or a 'dharmachakra' ('wheel of law') symbol.

Early Buddhist artists were reluctant to represent the Buddha in human form. They preferred to indicate his presence symbolically. This relief indicates the Buddha's presence through an empty throne, attended by two attendants bearing fly-whisks, emblems of a world sovereign (‘cakravartin’), and flanked by winged-lion capitals.