Pair of deer commemorating Buddha's first teaching
  See it in the Museum
Orientation 1
Standalone object 5

ABS 230

 Code: ABS 230

  Country: Mongolia


  Date: 1800 - 1900

  Dimensions in cm WxHxD: 67.5 x 100.5 x 30.5

  Materials: Gilt copper

Pair of deer

This pair of deer was initially surrounding a large eight-spoked wheel symbolising the Dharma or the Buddhist teachings. Usually placed on the pediment of temples and monasteries, they symbolise and commemorate the first teaching given by the historical Buddha Shakyamuni after reaching complete Awakening. This teaching on the Four Noble Truths was given to his former companion of asceticism in Sarnath, northern India, in the Deer park, hence the pair of deer surrounding the wheel. The animals represent a couple, the male being on the left, represented with a small horn, and the female on the right. Represented standing on lotus pedestals, the animal are usually depicted crouching on each side of the wheel.

Since the Gupta dynasty in India, it became customary to show Buddha Shakyamuni accompanied by a pair of deer when the first sermon is depicted. From northern India this theme spread to Nepal, Tibet, and further to China and Mongolia.