Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Dream of Queen Maya

The Dream of Queen Maya, Kushan period, 1st century A.D.
Pakistan (ancient region of Gandhara, probably Takht-i-Bahi)

This scene depicts the Buddha's miraculous conception. The Buddha's mother, Maya, lies sleeping on her right side. Female attendants surround her, including a guard who stands at the head of her bed holding a large sword. Above her is a circle that once contained an image of the Buddha-to-be in the form of a divine white elephant, descending from a heavenly abode to enter her womb. Maya is dreaming that this is taking place.
This relief comes from an area of ancient Pakistan known as Gandhara, which was reached by Alexander the Great in 329–326 B.C. and later ruled by the Kushans in the first through third centuries. The Kushans had extensive trade contact with Rome and the artistic influence that came with these contacts can be seen in the Mediterranean-inspired robes worn by Maya and her attendants.

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