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Asian Art
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Relief with Musicians and Dancers

2nd century

Gray schist

2 7/8 × 7 × 7/8 in. (7.3 × 17.8 × 2.3 cm)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Olsen
Amid acanthus leaves and an elaborate column, a musician at center plays a handheld drum while, at right, a dancer steps in time to its rhythm, clapping his hands to the music. This relief would once have adorned the steps of a stupa, a domed structure that housed the relics of the Buddha. Although music and dance were thought to be inappropriate behaviors for the monks who prayed and practiced meditation together at stupas, the lively scene most likely reflects the activities of other visitors to the site, possibly as a precursor to more formal worship, such as ritual processions around the stupa.
On view
Pakistani, Gandharan
Kushan period (ca. late 1st–early 4th century)

Fred H. Olsen (1891–1986), and Florence Quittenton Olsen, Guilford, Conn.; gift in 1955 to Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.