National Museum, New Delhi has a few exquisitely carved ivory objects in its collection. One of them is beautifully carved five feet long ivory tusk illustrating the important life events of Lord Buddha in forty-three small circular roundels (fig. 44). First twenty-five roundels illustrate the story of Buddha's birth to his enlightenment and next eighteen show his life events from enlightenment to Mahaparinirvana. All these scenes, narrated in Buddhist literature are represented in sculptures and paintings. However, the present ivory tusk shows a few new episodes such as Siddhartha's fight for a bird, his move against animal sacrifice and self realization of death's eternity. Intricately carved floral creeper band around roundels, makes it very beautiful. This priceless work of art appears to be the artistic creation of Delhi craftsmen of early twentieth century.
The present ivory tusk narrates the complete life story of Lord Buddha. The story runs from bottom to top. The first scene shows mountains, flora-fauna and architecture which gives the impact of a town, probably Kapilvastu followed by the second scene showing seated figure of king Suddhodhana, father of Buddha. Buddha seated in abhaya-mudrd under a tree is beautifully carved in third roundel. Though Buddha's presence is not clear yet perhaps the artist wanted to indicate that the story of Buddha starts from here. The fourth scene is the dream of queen Maya Devi, the mother of Buddha, which depicts elephant (fig. 45) on upper side while she is asleep, which symbolizes the saintly soul's appea...
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