The Dream of Queen Maya (the Buddha's Conception)
ca. 2nd century
Pakistan (ancient region of Gandhara)
Female attendants and guards, one of whom holds a sword, surround Maya, who is sleeping on a bed that has turned legs and is covered with an elegant floral textile. Maya dreams of a six-tusked elephant that descends from heaven to enter her womb through her right side; originally a small elephant would have been depicted in the broken central disk. This miraculous conception marks the Buddha Shakyamuni's final rebirth and physical entrance into this world.
Text and image credit:
The Metropolitan Museum of Art