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Axis Axis, the spotted deer

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Chapter Summary

The mriga of Shiva in stone sculptures from Tamil Nadu appears to be either an antlerless young spotted deer or an adult spotted mouse deer. Spotted deer hardly play an active role in narrative reliefs; rare exceptions are the Story of the Two Deer and the Story of Rama Hunting the Golden Deer as told in the epic Ramayana. The majority of deer sculptures merely indicate a peaceful setting, in which case they are commonly represented as a pair. The same is actually true for the pair of spotted deer below the seat of the teaching Buddha in representations of his First Sermon. The presence of spotted deer in reliefs figuring the First Sermon is, however rare; more often antelopes or gazelles are seen.

Keywords: Buddha's first sermon; narrative reliefs; Shiva's mriga; spotted deer



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