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Special Exhibitions Story of the Pigeon : Sibi jataka
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SICY        Updated:2007-02-07      Text:Large /  Medium  /  Small  
  
Amaravati
2nd Century A.D.
Lime stone
25 x 20 x 15 cm
AccNo. 52
  
It is significant to note that the rendering of the story ofthe pigeon at Amaravati can be seen elsewhere in the works of artsat Gandhara and Ajanta Interestingly, this story is comparable withthe earlier version available in the epic of Mahabharata,wherein Indra (rain god) and Agni (fire god) assume the forms ofhawk and pigeon for assessing the charitable disposition of KingSibi who had to make a unique bargain while delivering balancedjustice. In the process of judgement king cuts down his own fleshequal to the weight of pigeon from his thigh and offers it to thehawk.   Similarly, the storyline of the recent pastoccurring in the Merchant of Venice of William Shakespearmay remotely be associated with the present story when Shylockdemands flesh from the body of his friend Antonio.
  
The contemporary artists have taken three focal points of thenarrative into cognigence wherein depiction of King Sibi with hisretinue and discussing the fate of pigeon resting in his shelterhas been given utmost care and treatment. Scenes of cutting of theflesh of equal weight of the pigeon from the thigh and ensuring theweight of flesh with that of pigeon in a balance have been givendue importance.   Invariably, in such representationsking Sibi was shown with crown and in befitting attire, wearingelaborate necklace, armlets and wristlets set with jewels.
  
In the present panel, the face of the kneeling figure has beendamaged. It is conspicuous to note that his body is bereft ofjewellery hence to identify him as King Sibi may bedebated.     Behind him is the ‘hawk’ of thestory, in human form, holding the pigeon in his left hand andslightly leaning forward to view the kneeling person who is in theact of slicing flesh from his left thigh with a double edgedsword.