Mathura lion capital

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Red sandstone pillar capital
MathuraLionCapital.JPG
The Mathura lion capital (British Museum)
Material Sandstone
Size 16.75 inches tip to tip
Created 1st century CE
Discovered Mathura in Central India
Present location British Museum, London

The Mathura lion capital is an Indo-Scythian sandstone capital from Mathura in Central India, dated to the 1st century CE.

The capital is covered with Prakrit inscriptions in the kharoshthi script of northwestern India.[1] The capital was made on the occasion of the funeral of "the illustrious king Muki and his horse" (Muki has been conjectured to be Maues).

The capital describes, among other donations, the gift of a stupa with a relic of the Buddha, by Queen Aiyasi Kamuia, the "chief queen of the Indo-Scythian ruler of Mathura, strap Rajuvula", mentioned as the "daughter of Kharaosta Kamuio" (See: Mathura Lion Capital inscriptions below). The lion capital also mentions the genealogy of several Indo-Scythian satraps of Mathura. It mentions Sodasa, son of Rajuvula, who succeeded him and also made Mathura his capital. The Kharoshthi names Kamuia/Kamuio mentioned in the Lion Capital have been restored as Kambojika or Kamboja by Stein Konow

The capital also displays at its center a Buddhist triratana symbol, further confirming the involvement of Indo-Scythian rulers with Buddhism.

The inscription indicates support of the Sarvastivadin, against the Mahasamghikas.[2]

It is on display at the British Museum in the Joseph E. Hotung Gallery.

List of inscriptions[edit]

Buddhist symbol of the triratana at the center of the capital, supported by a convoluted tree, possibly a variation of the anthemion design.

Here is the list of the inscriptions in simplified Gandhari script:[3]

  • A1 mahaksha[tra]vasa rajulasa
"For the Great satrap Rajuvula"
  • A2 agra-maheshi ayasia
"Chief Queen Ayasia,"
  • A3 kamuia dhida
"The kamuia daughter of"
  • A4 kharaostasa yuvarana
"The heir-apparent Kharahostes,"
  • A5 mada nada-diakasa [taye]
  • A6 sadha matra abuhola[e]
  • A7 pitramahi pishpasia bhra
  • A8 tra hayuarana sadha hana dhi[tra]
  • A9 a[te]urena horaka-pa
  • A10 rivarena isha pradhravi-prade
  • A11 she nisime sharira pradithavido
"Has offered relics of"
  • A12 bhakhavado shakamunisa budhasa
"The bhagavat Buddha Sakyamuni"
  • A13 muki-[shiri]-raya sashpa [a]bhusavi[ta]
  • A14 thuva ca sagharama ca cadu
  • A15 dishasa saghasa sarva
  • A16 stivadana parigrahe


Lion detail on the Mathura lion capital. British Museum.
  • E1 kharaosto yuvaraya
"The heir-apparent Kharahostes,"
  • E’ kamuio
"A kamuia"
  • E2 khalamasa kumara
  • E3 maja kanitha
  • E4 saman[u] moda
  • E’’ kha karita
  • B1/B2 mahakshatravasa va[ra]julasa putra
"The son of the Great Satrap Rajuvula:"
  • C1 kalui a
  • C2 varajo
  • C3 sudase kshatrave
"The Satrap Sodasa"
  • D1 nauludo


  • M1 kshatrave sudise
  • M2 imo padhravi
  • M3 pradesho
  • I1 veyaudirna kadhavaro busapa
  • I2 ro kadha
  • I3 varo
  • I4 vi ya u
  • J1 rvaraparena palichina
  • J2 nisimo karita niyadido
  • H'dhamadana
  • H guhavihare
  • KL1 ayariasa
  • KL2 budhadevasa
"The divine Buddha"
  • KL3 udaena ayimi[ta]
  • F1 budhilasa nakharaasa
  • F2 bhikhusa sarvastivadasa
"Sarvastivada monk"
  • G1/G2 mahakshat[r]avasa kusul[u]asa patikasa mevaki[sa] miyikasa kshat[r]avasa puyae
"The satrap Miyika honours the great satrap Kusulaka Patika"
  • J3 sarvastivadana parigrahe


  • N1 ayariasa budhilasa nakharakhasa bhikhu
  • N2 sa sarvastivadasa pagra
  • N3 na mahasaghiana pra
  • N4 ma navidave khalulasa
  • O1/O2 sarvabudhana puya dhamasa puya saghasa puya
"Revere all the Buddhas, revere the dharma, revere the sangha"
  • P1/P2 sarvasa sakhasta nasa puyae
"In reverence of all the dead Sakas"
  • Q1 khardaasa
"Kharda"
  • Q2 kshatravasa
"the Satrap"
  • R1 takshilasa
"Taxila"
  • R2 kroninasa
  • J'1 khalasamu
  • J'2 so

Interpretation[edit]

Sten Konow, who compiled a definitive listing of Indian Buddhist inscriptions, identified "Kamuia" with "Kamboja" (an Iron Age tribe of the north-west frontier). "If we bear in mind that mb becomes m i.e mm in the dialect of Kharoshthi dhammapada, and that u is used for the common o in Sudasa in the Lion Capital Inscriptions, the Kamuia of the Lion Capital can very well represent a Sanskrit Kambojika ... I shall only add that if Kharoshtha and his father Arta were Kambojas, the same may have been the case with Moga, and we understand why the Kambojas are sometimes mentioned with the Sakas and Yavanas".[4] Many of Konow's readings, his sequence of sentences and some of the interpretation, particularly the connection with king Maues, need to be changed in the light of a new reading of H. Falk.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Red Sanstone Pillar Capital, British Museum, accessed August 2010
  2. ^ Rosenfield, "The dynastic art of the Kushans", p.134
  3. ^ List of the inscriptions on the Mathura lion capital
  4. ^ Sten Konow, Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum, Vol II, Part I, p xxxvi,p 36
  5. ^ Harry Falk, "Ten thoughts on the Mathura Lion capital reliquary". Bhandare, Shailendra & Sanjay Garg (eds.), "Felicitas - Essays in Numismatics, Epigraphy and History in Honour of Joe Cribb". Mumbai, pp. 121-141