The Buddhist Relics of Amaravati | Egmore Museum, Chennai - Storytrails
Every sight has a story to tell

The Buddhist Relics of Amaravati | Egmore Museum, Chennai

The 2000 year old Amaravati marbles at the Egmore Museum in Chennai are the remnants of a Buddhist stupa built by the mighty Satavahana kings. Who were these Hindu kings that created such beautiful Buddhist art? What does a small statue of Hercules sitting amidst Buddhist relics at the Museum tell us about the evolution of Buddhism? Watch this video to know all this and more!

This is the story of the discovery of the oldest Buddhist art in the world!

Unearthed by chance in the ancient city of Amaravati (present-day Andhra Pradesh), these are the remnants of a Buddhist stupa built by the mighty Satavahana kings. Who were these Hindu kings that created such beautiful Buddhist art? 

It is well known that Ashoka, the great Mauryan emperor, played a big part in the spread of Buddhism over 2000 years ago. But there were other historical events that were equally instrumental in the spread of Buddhism, such as Alexander’s invasion of India, that occurred much before Ashoka. The icons on the Amaravati sculptures, that were once used to represent Buddha himself, tell us the story of Buddhism and the evolution of Buddhist art. This video traces that story. 

This video takes you to the Government Museum at Egmore, Chennai, home to the largest collection of these priceless Buddhist antiques, to tell you that story. 


This video is brought to you in partnership with Tamil Nadu Tourism and Department of Museums

What are Buddhist stupas? Why are they said to be stories in stone? You can listen to many more stories about the Amaravati marbles on the Free Storytrails audio tour of the Egmore Museum. Visit https://www.storytrails.app

Editing: Studio A, Chennai

Music, Sound Design, Mix & Master: S. S. Sriram (instagram.com/ss.sriram)

Wardrobe Sponsor: Rare Rabbit (https://thehouseofrare.com/)

Illustrations: Vibha Surya

  1. Amaravati Stupa excavation – By J.G Horsfall 1880 photograph – Amaravati:The art of an early Buddhist monument in context, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=70871933
  2. Artefacts from Amaravati – Storytrails
  3. Colin Mackenzie – By Thomas Hickey (1741–1824) – Art UK; Philimore; BL metadata), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5091619
  4. British Museum – https://pixabay.com/photos/british-museum-museum-london-uk-5200534/
  5. Egmore Museum – Storytrails
  6. Amaravati Casing Slab – Storytrails
  7. Amaravati Stupa Illustration – Storytrails
  8. Ancient Kalinga Map – By India_rivers_and_lakes_map.svg: User:Planemadderivative work: Aymatth2 (talk) – India_rivers_and_lakes_map.svg, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12105586
  9. Mauryan Empire Map – By Avantiputra7 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33663725
  10. Asoka’s visit to Ramagrama Stupa – By Photo Dharma from Sadao, Thailand – Detail of:., CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=61783990
  11. Edicts of Ashoka- By Sachin kumar tiwary – This file has been extracted from another file, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=70710778
  12. Edicts of Ashoka Kandahar – Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=418237
  13. Rock edicts of Khalsi – By Mishra.prashant89 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51442997
  14. Brahmi script on Ashoka pillar – By ampersandyslexia – originally posted to Flickr as India, Day 15, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7715585
  15. The Rummindei pillar in Lumbini – By Photo Dharma from Penang, MalaysiaCharlie Phillips from London, UK – This file has been extracted from another file, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=116028457
  16. Edicts of Ashoka – By Dhamijalok – This file has been extracted from another file, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=73114791
  17. Map of Asia 323 BCE showing Alexander’s Empire and neighbors – By Talessman at English Wikipedia, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5095944
  18. Alexander the Great – By Unknown creator – This file has been extracted from another file, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32224319
  19. Map of Kushan – By Map created from DEMIS Mapserver, which are public domain. Koba-chan.Reference: Schwartzberg Atlas, v. , p. 145. Map g – This file has been extracted from another file, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=115482936
  20. The Buddha in Greco- Buddhist style – By World Imaging – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=89740
  21. Hornblende schist rock figure of Buddha, from Gandhara School – https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hornblende_schist_rock_figure_of_Buddha,_from_Gandhara_School,_India,_200-300_CE._National_Museum_of_Scotland,_Edinburgh.jpg
  22. Seated Buddha – Gandhara – By PHGCOM – self-made, photographed at Ostasiatische Museum, Berlin, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3443479
  23. Buddhist Texts – By https://wellcomeimages.org/indexplus/obf_images/51/50/4149c15b5d8eab91b861dc4cb4c0.jpgGallery: https://wellcomeimages.org/indexplus/image/L0031774.htmlWellcome Collection gallery (2018-03-30): https://wellcomecollection.org/works/cpxnthrw CC-BY-4.0, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36048938
  24. Sculpture showing devotees bowing down before Buddha’s feet – Storytrails
  25. Lotus Sculpture – Storytrails
  26. Wheel with 8 spokes – https://www.flickr.com/photos/28772513@N07/7334606504
  27. Coins of Satavahana dynasty – By The original uploader was Per Honor et Gloria at English Wikipedia. – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42908832
  28. Satavahana empire map, early 1st cent. CE- By Map created from DEMIS Mapserver, which are public domain. Koba-chan.Reference: [1] – This file has been extracted from another file, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=115171752
  29. Amaravati Stupa model -Stroytrails
  30. Pandavleni Caves, Nashik 2nd cent. CE – By Photo Dharma from Sadao, Thailand – 010 Cave 3, Exterior, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=58408349
  31. Pillars of Pandavleni Caves, Nashik – By Photo Dharma from Sadao, Thailand – 011 Cave 3, Pillars and Relief, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=58408322
  32. Bhaja Caves, Pune 2nd cent. BCE – By Elroy Serrao – originally posted to Flickr as The Bhaje Caves 05, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5718209
  33. Kanheri Caves, Mumbai, 2nd cent. CE – By Elroy Serrao – originally posted to Flickr as Main Cave, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5928731
  34. Ajanta Caves – https://live.staticflickr.com/262/31243564993_096628774f_b.jpg
  35. Panoramic view of Ajanta Caves – By Freakyyash – photo taken by Freakyyash, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3327472
  36. Sanchi Stupa – By Bernard Gagnon – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33567558
  37. Amaravati casing slab with lions and pillar – Storytrails
  38. Chinese traveller Xuan Zang – By This work has been released into the public domain by its author, Alexcn at Chinese Wikipedia, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=247641
  39. Maya’s dream – Storytrails
  40. Translation of the begging bowl of Buddha to heaven – Storytrails
  41. Mora Jataka panel – Storytrails
  42. Lotus panel – Storytrails
  43. Buddha performing miracle at Sravasti – Storytrails
  44. Stone sculpture gallery Egmore museum – Storytrails
  45. Amaravati gallery Egmore museum – Storytrails
  46. Mora Jataka sculpture – Storytrails
  47. Stone caskets – Storytrails
END OF STORY

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