Mathura lion capital

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Mathura lion capital
Mathura lion capital .jpg
The Mathura lion capital on display in the Sir Joseph Hotung Gallery for China and South Asia at the British Museum.
MaterialRed Sandstone
SizeHeight 34cm Width 52.5cm
WritingPrakrit inscription written in Kharoshthi script
Created1–10 CE
DiscoveredMathura in Central India
Present locationBritish Museum, London
Mathura (Discovery) is located in India
Mathura (Discovery)
Mathura (Discovery)

The Mathura lion capital is an Indo-Scythian sandstone capital (a part of a pillar) from Mathura in Northern India, dated to the first decade of the 1st century CE (1–10 CE).[1] It was consecrated under the rule of Rajuvula, one of the Northern Satraps of the region of Mathura.

The capital was unearthed at the Saptarishi mound of Mathura by Bhagwan Lal Indraji in 1869.[2] It is covered with Prakrit inscriptions in the kharoshthi script of northwestern India.[3] 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 Ayasia, the "chief queen of the Indo-Scythian ruler of Mathura, satrap Rajuvula". The Mathura lion capital, an Indo-Scythian sandstone capital from Mathura in Central India, and dated to the 1st century CE, describes in kharoshthi the gift of a stupa with a relic of the Buddha, by queen Nadasi Kasa, "the wife of Rajuvula" and "daughter of Aiyasi Kamuia", who is mentioned as the "daughter of Kharahostes". 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 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.[4]

It is on display in the South Asia section of the Sir Joseph Hotung Gallery for China and South Asia at the British Museum.

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.
Kharoshthi inscription on base of Mathura capital.
Lion detail on the Mathura lion capital. British Museum.
Layout of the Mathura lion capital inscriptions.[5]

In a Latin transliteration of simplified Kharosthi script, the inscriptions read:[6]

  • 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
  • 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
  • Q2 kshatravasa
"the Satrap"
  • R1 takshilasa
  • R2 kroninasa
  • J'1 khalasamu
  • J'2 so


The Saptarishi Tila statue, possibly representing Kambojika, the Chief Queen of Mahakshatrapa Rajula. Found in the Saptarishi Mound, the same mound where the Mathura lion capital was found. Circa 1st century CE. Other angles.

Sten Konow, who compiled a definitive listing of Indian Buddhist inscriptions said: "If we bear in mind that mb becomes m i.e mm in the dialect of Kharoshthi dhammapada, and that 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".[7] 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.[8]


  1. ^ Salomon, Richard (July 1996). "An Inscribed Silver Buddhist Reliquary of the Time of King Kharaosta and Prince Indravarman". Journal of the American Oriental Society. 116 (3): 442. JSTOR 605147.
  2. ^ Jason Neelis (19 November 2010). Early Buddhist Transmission and Trade Networks: Mobility and Exchange Within and Beyond the Northwestern Borderlands of South Asia. BRILL. p. 122. ISBN 90-04-18159-8.
  3. ^ "Red Sandstone Pillar Capital". British Museum. Archived from the original on 16 December 2010. Retrieved 1 August 2010.
  4. ^ Rosenfield, John M. (1967). The dynastic art of the Kushans. University of California Press. p. 134.
  5. ^ Konow, Sten (1929). Kharoshthi Inscriptions With The Exception Of Those Of Asoka. India. p. 35.
  6. ^ "List of the inscriptions on the Mathura lion capital".
  7. ^ Sten Konow, Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum, Vol II, Part I, p xxxvi, p 36
  8. ^ 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


  • Baums, Stefan. 2012. "Catalog and Revised Texts and Translations of Gandharan Reliquary Inscriptions." In: David Jongeward, Elizabeth Errington, Richard Salomon and Stefan Baums, Gandharan Buddhist Reliquaries, p. 219–222, Seattle: Early Buddhist Manuscripts Project (Gandharan Studies, Volume 1).
  • Baums, Stefan, and Andrew Glass. 2002– . Catalog of Gāndhārī Texts, no. CKI 48
  • British Museum Collection Online Reg. No. 1889,0314.1 [1]