Even in a giant high-resolution image to the British Museum, the inscription on a piece of limestone carved with nearly 2,000 years for a large Buddhist Shrine in India, is hardly visible. But with a tap on a smartphone screen, the life-sized figure of a woman, projected onto the gallery wall changes from black and white to color, and to explain the steps to the front, in order, the beautiful carving has been given in honor of the Buddha, and win grace for yourself and your family.
Her name is not recorded, but she was a female disciple of the monk Vathisara at the Great Shrine from Amaravati. The recently translated the inscription explains that they paid for the carving in 250AD. Your gift is the only surviving image of the Shrine itself, in spite of the fact that, at its height, the Buddhist Shrine was one of the largest and most important in the world.
The carving uses a new stone that was already ancient: the other side, carved some 300 years earlier, shows pilgrims gathered around a symbolic representation of the Buddha, depicted as an empty throne, a pair of footprints and the Bodhi tree under which he attained enlightenment.
Imma Ramos, the Museum’s curator, South Asia collections, said her gift raises a lot of questions: if the woman was a Buddhist nun, she was still clearly a woman of considerable means, who had preserved their family connections. “The two sides of the stone also shows us a fascinating development over the centuries in the representation of the Buddha, a being whose power and authority can only be shown by a symbolic lack, a real human figure is represented, which is the heart of the sanctuary.”
The British Museum display consists of a limestone slab carved 2000 years ago for a Buddhist Shrine. Photo: British Museum
The later carving shows the dome of the stupa, guarded by stone lions, which was the heart of what a great Shrine. C., founded in the second century BC there is a mountain of stone covered with a facade is 120 meters long. The Great Shrine of Amaravati flourished almost 1000 years, but fell into ruins by the 18th century, a stone quarry for buildings in the Andhra Pradesh region. In the 19th century, it was excavated largely, and preserved carvings. The British Museum has more than 120 carvings of the Website, which is the largest collection outside of India.
The new, free ads, developed in partnership with Google Creative Lab in Sydney, uses the smartphone technology to interpret the history of the carving and of the Shrine, originally in the possession of a precious relic from a student, or possibly even of the Buddha himself.
Daniel Pett, an expert from the Museum’s digital interpretation of the archaeology, said the exhibition is the first in a museum, an interactive display, controlled via a dedicated wifi link to the gallery instead of a downloaded app. Most mobile phones can instantly access additional information on the carve and animate the characters on the walls.
The technology, said Pett, avoiding the fear, the have many visitors, expressed in terms of the cost of the use of apps when traveling abroad. A plurality of mobile parts connected, provided for visitors without a mobile phone or with inappropriate models.
The donor of the carving has three companions in the display, brought to life by the actors, but real people portrayed is also identified by the inscriptions associated with the Shrine: a first century BC perfume-maker, who has a carved pillar, a Buddhist monk, and his sister, which gave a lion-shaped support for the a-pillar, a century later, and a woman, were part of the elaborately carved railing that surrounded the sanctuary.
Virtual pilgrimage, reimagining India is the Great Shrine of Amaravati, is free of charge, at the British Museum until 8. October. The carved plate is on permanent display in the new Asahi Shimbun Indian gallery from November 2017.