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The Great Departure

  • Object:

    Relief panel

  • Place of origin:

    Gandhara (made)

  • Date:

    2nd century-4th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Talcose schist carved in high relief and thickly coated with a lime deposit

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mrs Helena Custance

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Buddhism, Room 20, The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Galleries of Buddhist Art, case WN, shelf 1

Physical description

This rectangular panel shows the departure of Prince Siddhartha from his father's city of Kapilavastu. He rides his great white horse, Kanthaka, whose hooves are held above the ground by yakshas to avoid making any sound (the front one of whom is kneeling with the rear one only visible at head height. Before him stands a male figure who may be the tempter Mara, holding what appears to be a bow, with one of his daughters wearing an elaborate headdress topped with what may be feathers, and behind them, three of his minions. It has been suggested by Foucher that this woman may represent the city goddess of Kapilavastu.( See Ackermann, 1975) Behind Siddhartha stands the bearded and curly-haired figure of Vajrapani, holding a large thunderbolt (vajra).
Tenons are apparent at the upper and at the two lateral margins, and a wide plain fillet defines the scene at the base and right hand side.

Place of Origin

Gandhara (made)


2nd century-4th century (made)



Materials and Techniques

Talcose schist carved in high relief and thickly coated with a lime deposit


Height: 21 cm, Width: 25 cm, Depth: 7 cm

Object history note

Given by Mrs Helena Custance, 1935

Descriptive line

Relief panel depicting Prince Siddhartha departing from his father's city, grey schist, 2nd century AD.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

p. 73, pl. XVb
Ackermann, Hans Christoph. Narrative Stone Reliefs from Gandhara in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Catalogue and Attempt at a Stylistic History. Reports and Memoirs. Director of the Series Giuseppe Tucci. Volume XVII. IsMEO, Rome, 1975.

Labels and date

The Great Departure of the Buddha
AD 100–300
Ancient Gandhara
Prince Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddha to be)
is shown as he departs secretly at night from
his father’s city of Kapilavastu. He rides his horse
Kanthaka, whose hooves are held off the ground
by the gods to prevent them making any noise.
Behind him follows the guardian Vajrapani,
holding a large thunderbolt or vajra.
Museum no. IM.30-1935
300–100 [1/4/2009]





Subjects depicted



Sculpture; Buddhism; Animals and Wildlife


South & South East Asia Collection

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