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Asian art

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Reliquary stupa

1st century-3rd century


Unknown Artist


Originally a funeral mound, constructed either to commemorate a great person or to house his relics, the stupa is the quintessential symbol of the Buddha. While architectural stupas serve as places of worship, smaller ones are used as reliquaries and votive offerings.The veneration accorded a reliquary stupa is determined by its size, rarity and preciousness of the materials from which it is made, such as gold, rock crystal, or silver. This stupa contains a reliquary containing a small gold stupa inside it. The whole ensemble would have been placed within at least one other case, perhaps of stone, before being placed at the base of an architectural stupa.

Asian Art Department, AGNSW, September 2013.


Place where the work was made

Swat Valley Ancient Gandhara Pakistan


Kushan period mid 1st century - early 5th century


1st century-3rd century

Media category


Materials used

crystal, gold, copper and pearls


28.0 cm


Purchased 2007


Not on display

Accession number


Shown in 2 exhibitions

Exhibition history

  • One hundred flowers (2011), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 01 Sep 2011–15 Jan 2012

  • Glorious, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 27 May 2017–06 Jan 2019

The provenance of this work is under review and records will be updated as new details become available. The Gallery welcomes any information. Contact


Private Collection, 2007, Sydney/New South Wales/Australia, family heirloom of several decades

Referenced in 2 publications


Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales Annual Report 2007-08, Sydney, 2008, 18 (colour illus.).

Jackie Menzies, Look, 'The Stupa', pg.27, Sydney, Mar 2008, 27 (colour illus.).