Reliquary casket, steatite

Reliquary casket, steatite

Reliquary casket
Steatite
Sonari, Madhya Pradesh, India
circa 200 BC
Museum no. IM.219-1921

It was customary from the time of the Buddha's death of preserve and venerate his relics. This relic container is believed to have been interned around 200 BCE. It was excavated at Sonari, a Buddhist monastery 6 miles south-west of Sanchi, by A Cunningham and F C Maisey in 1851. It is lathe-turned and shaped to resemble a lotus bud, with incised bands of lotus petals decorating the shoulder and the lower part of the body. The upper body is divided into 8 rectangular compartments, each of which contains an elephant, horse, deer or winged lion.