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Gazella Bennetti, the chinkara

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Chapter Summary

Carvings of gazelles in stone are very rare, and practically limited to early Buddhist narrative reliefs, mainly from Andhra Pradesh and Greater Gandhara. Gazelles fall under the broader class of mriga, or game animals, and it is not always possible to determine the mriga with certainty. Straight, ungrooved and unbranched horns and a small body size are indicative for a gazelle. There is not much difference between the depicted gazelles: they are either calmly sitting as a pair below or flanking the wheel of the law (dharmachakra) in illustrations of Buddha's First Sermon, or bouncing off in fear. Settings in which the gazelles do not turn their head and do not turn away from each other seem to be restricted to iconographic programmes in which the Buddha's presence is indicated by his footprints in front of an empty seat.

Keywords: chinkara; Gazella Bennetti; iconography; narrative reliefs



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