This delicate painting depicts an episode from
the life of the Buddha. Devadatta, the Buddha’s
cousin, had long been jealous of his relative’s
success. Towards the end of the Buddha’s life he
asked to take over the Order but was refused.
Rather than accept the Buddha’s decision,
Devadatta plotted various ways by which the
Buddha might meet a fatal accident. In the city of
Rajagraha, he bribed some workmen to let loose
a sick elephant who charged towards the Buddha
in a fit of rage. This panel depicts the moment
just after the elephant is miraculously tamed by
the Buddha, who places his right hand on the
animal’s forehead. A monk stands to the right of
the Buddha, and above four women with clasped
hands watch the miracle occur from a balcony.
This panel is a fragment which may once have
adorned a monastic complex. It would certainly
have been part of a larger narrative series
depicting other scenes from the life of the
Buddha. Although the colours of the mineral
pigments have faded over time, the quality of the
draftsmanship is still apparent.