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Nimbus Fragment with Celestial Beings and Bodhi Tree

Nimbus Fragment with Celestial Beings and Bodhi Tree, c. 100

India: Uttar Pradesh, Mathura, 75-125
Mottled red sandstone
overall: 21-3/4 x 39 x 4-3/4 in. (55.2 x 99.1 x 12.1 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
© The Norton Simon Foundation

On view

This sandstone fragment was once part of a nimbus, or halo, surrounding Buddha Shakyamuni seated beneath a bodhi tree, which can be recognized by its distinctive heart-shaped leaves. The tree is actually a fig tree (ficus religiosa), but became known as a bodhi tree because the Buddha reached enlightenment (bodhi) after meditating beneath one for forty-nine days. The two flying male figures are angels bearing garlands as offerings to the Buddha.

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