84 • Silver Casket

Greater Gandhara, 2nd century BC
Size: 7 cm high

This small round pyxis is made from very high quality silver and depicts wild life from ancient Gandhara.  On the top of the lid seven birds and animals are displayed in a circle and on the body there are five roundels also showing birds and animals as well as engraved acanthus leaves. The pattern of the body was made with a hammer and chase technique. The details of the motifs show a very skilful craftsmanship. This pyxis is an early prototype of Buddhist reliquaries. A similar technique was used in a gold Buddhist casket discovered in Bimaran (Afghanistan) now hosted in the British Museum and shows a Buddhist figurine in relief where the top borders are encrusted with garnets.  Another gold spherical Pyxis with lid was excavated at Tillia Tepe in Afghanistan.