3rd centuryPakistan (ancient region of Gandhara)Gray schist;
This expressive relief depicts the Buddha's death. His recumbent body is shown surrounded by grieving monks and disciples. At the age of eighty, after eating some tainted food, he became very sick and laid down between two trees to die. Images of his death, after which he passed into nirvana (the extinction of desire), symbolize his complete freedom from the endless cycle of rebirth. In addition to small representations such as this one, colossal images commemorating the moment can be found in many countries in which Buddhism is or was practiced, including India, Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, and Japan.