158. A Mauryan Stone Roundel

Arachosie, 3rd century BC
Size: 8.7 cm diameter

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It is astonishing how much can be clearly carved into a small space: a temple building with balustrade and staircase; a couple worshipping; an old man in discussion with a youth in a cave below; a woman and driver in a cart pulled by a pair of horses; a woman in a shawl and with an elaborate headdress in a boat with her standing servant; a rocky landscape with a palm, a mango tree and a tree in blossom; and an undulating leaf and flower border. This is a portable shrine representing an important religious story, a sort of aide-memoire while travelling with a caravan. It probably dates to the time when Ashoka appointed his son Konala governor of Taxila. Another disc illustrating mythology was found at Ai-Khanum, but generally they are simpler, with a goddess or two and some animals and plants.