InArchCenter ID:- IACBN0010
Sometime before May 1886 a large metal seal was unearthed when the foundations for a house were being excavated at Bhitr¯ı, the important Gupta site near Var¯ an¯.asi. An old and respectable family at the place (their name is not recorded in the published sources) presented the seal to C. J. Nicholls, a judge at Kanpur, who accepted it on behalf of the government.1 In due course, the seal was passed to the Government Museum at Lucknow. The seal has two projecting knobs on the back, evidently for fixing it to a copper-plate charter which is now lost. The whitish-grey color of the metal first suggested that the seal was made of silver bullion but analysis showed that it was cast in an alloy of copper, silver, and gold with a trace of iron.2 The upper portion of the seal, a little less than half the surface, carries an image of Garud.a in low relief.3 He is depicted as a rotund little figure, facing directly forward with outspread wings. A serpent or naga ¯ is wrapped around his neck. He has the face of a man with thick lips and shoulder-length hair; on the forehead is a mark, probably the first instance of the vertical tilaka of the Vais.n.ava faith. In the ground to the upper left is a faint circle, perhaps Vis.n. u’s discus or a representation of the sun. To the right in the corresponding position, there is an indistinct mark which may be Vis.n. u’s conch or the moon. As the official ensign or emblem of the Gupta house, Garud.a appears with some frequency in the visual culture of the fifth century, notably above the rock-cut figure of Nar¯ Ayan ¯ .a at Udayagiri and atop the standards that are frequently shown on Gupta gold coins.4 How the Garud. a standard that was understood in socio-political terms is told by the Juna¯. Garh inscription which states that Skandagupta ‘ ... pushed down the serpent rulers, who had raised up their hoods in pride and arrogance, and rendered them devoid of poison with the antidote of the Garud.an image.
For Full Article Please Click Me