176 • Copper Sieve

176 • Copper Sieve

Kham Zargar, Afghanistan, 1st century AD
Size: 19.5 cm high, 34.5 cm diameter

The sieve is pierced with holes between 1.5 and 2 mm in diameter, elegantly arranged in typically Buddhist floral patterns. Kham Zargar is near Begram, and this sieve is an important relic of the Buddhist monastic communities that proliferated around Taxila. After the Huns arrived in the 3rd century, Buddhism declined and the monasteries decayed, as Shiva-ism and Vishnu-ism came to predominate. The ancient site of Taxila was identified by Sir John Marshall in the early 20th century when he deciphered the inscription on a copper plaque. This sieve is the only object in private hands that mentions Taxila and its Buddhist monasteries.

Published: O. Bopearachchi, C. Landes, C. Sachs, De l’Indus à l’Oxus. Archéologie de l’Asie Centrale, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Montpellier, 2003, no. 336

Provenance: Private collection, UK

Inscription around the rim: ‘In the Buddhist community of every quarter, in the zone of the roe deer, at Taksila, for the acceptance of the monks of the Kasyapiyas Order, this is the gift of the monk Drdha, living in the monastery of the Serias.’