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Buddhist Reliquaries from Ancient India
With contributions by Joe Cribb and Julia Shaw
Willis, Michael
8.8 x 11", 128 pp., 110 b/w illustrations, 9 maps and plans, cloth, d.j., London, 2000.
The reliquaries that are the subject of this book were collected at Sanchi and neighboring sites in central India by Sir Alexander Cunningham and F.C. Maisey in the mid-nineteenth century. They are now in the collections of the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. This book is the first detailed catalogue of this material.

Relics played a key role in early Buddhism. As Buddhism spread across Asia, so did the cult of relics and practice of building shrines to contain them. The reliqueries discussed here are the earliest example known, and because many of these reliquaries carry inscriptions, they are of great importance for the history of early Buddhism in the first two centuries BC. The historical background is surveyed in the book's extensive introduction, which includes an account of relic worship, an examination of how sacred space was controlled by the monastic community, and ground-breaking reassessments of Indian history and early Indian sculpture. These issues are crucial for dating the reliquaries and for putting the reliquary sites in the wider context of Buddhist art and architecture.

The catalogue not only documents the key finds from some of the leading Buddhist sites in northern India but also presents the first critical analysis of early reliquary inscriptions. Illustrations of the reliquaries are provided as well as hitherto unpublished nineteenth-century drawings, antiquarian photographs and little known Buddhist monuments, many only recently excavated and repaired.


Price $175.00
Item # 13742
ISBN 0714114928
British Museum Press
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