Posted on: 6 March 2016

The Dream of Queen Maya (the Buddha's Conception)

Kushan period
ca. 2nd century
Pakistan (ancient region of Gandhara)

Female attendants and guards, one of whom holds a sword, surround Maya, who is sleeping on a bed that has turned legs and is covered with an elegant floral textile. Maya dreams of a six-tusked elephant that descends from heaven to enter her womb through her right side; originally a small elephant would have been depicted in the broken central disk. This miraculous conception marks the Buddha Shakyamuni's final rebirth and physical entrance into this world.

Text and image credit:
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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