Lion Capital of Asoka

Lion Capital of Asoka

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The Lion capital
Capital (architecture)
In architecture the capital forms the topmost member of a column . It mediates between the column and the load thrusting down upon it, broadening the area of the column's supporting surface...

 of Ashoka
Ashoka
Ashok Maurya or Ashoka , popularly known as Ashoka the Great, was an Indian emperor of the Maurya Dynasty who ruled almost all of the Indian subcontinent from ca. 269 BC to 232 BC. One of India's greatest emperors, Ashoka reigned over most of present-day India after a number of military conquests...

is a sculpture of four "Indian lions" standing back to back. It was originally placed atop the Aśoka pillar
Pillars of Ashoka
The pillars of Ashoka are a series of columns dispersed throughout the northern Indian subcontinent, erected or at least inscribed by the Mauryan king Ashoka during his reign in the 3rd century BCE. Originally, there must have been many pillars but only nineteen survive with inscriptions. Many are...

 at Sarnath
Sarnath
Sarnath or Sārnātha is the deer park where Gautama Buddha first taught the Dharma, and where the Buddhist Sangha came into existence through the enlightenment of Kondanna. Sarnath is located 13 kilometres north-east of Varanasi, in Uttar Pradesh, India...

, now in the state of Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh abbreviation U.P. , is a state located in the northern part of India. With a population of over 200 million people, it is India's most populous state, as well as the world's most populous sub-national entity...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 by Emperor Ashoka circa 250 BC. The pillar, sometimes called the Aśoka Column is still in its original location, but the Lion Capital is now in the Sarnath Museum
Sarnath Museum
Museum at Sarnath is museum that houses the findings and excavations at Sarnath, by the Archaeological Survey of India, close to archaeological site.-Overview:...

. This Lion Capital of Ashoka from Sarnath has been adopted as the National Emblem of India and the wheel "Ashoka Chakra
Ashoka Chakra
The Ashoka Chakra is depiction of the Buddhist Dharmachakra, represented with 24 spokes. It is so called because it appears on a number of edicts of Ashoka, most prominent among which is the Lion Capital of Sarnath which has been adopted as the National Emblem of the Republic of India.The most...

" from its base was placed onto the center of the National Flag of India.

The capital
Capital (architecture)
In architecture the capital forms the topmost member of a column . It mediates between the column and the load thrusting down upon it, broadening the area of the column's supporting surface...

 contains four lions (Indian / Asiatic Lions), standing back to back, mounted on an abacus
Abacus (architecture)
In architecture, an abacus is a flat slab forming the uppermost member or division of the capital of a column, above the bell. Its chief function is to provide a large supporting surface to receive the weight of the arch or the architrave above...

, with a frieze
Frieze
thumb|267px|Frieze of the [[Tower of the Winds]], AthensIn architecture the frieze is the wide central section part of an entablature and may be plain in the Ionic or Doric order, or decorated with bas-reliefs. Even when neither columns nor pilasters are expressed, on an astylar wall it lies upon...

 carrying sculptures in high relief
Relief
Relief is a sculptural technique. The term relief is from the Latin verb levo, to raise. To create a sculpture in relief is thus to give the impression that the sculpted material has been raised above the background plane...

 of an elephant
Elephant
Elephants are large land mammals in two extant genera of the family Elephantidae: Elephas and Loxodonta, with the third genus Mammuthus extinct...

, a galloping horse
Horse
The horse is one of two extant subspecies of Equus ferus, or the wild horse. It is a single-hooved mammal belonging to the taxonomic family Equidae. The horse has evolved over the past 45 to 55 million years from a small multi-toed creature into the large, single-toed animal of today...

, a bull
Bull
Bull usually refers to an uncastrated adult male bovine.Bull may also refer to:-Entertainment:* Bull , an original show on the TNT Network* "Bull" , an episode of television series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation...

, and a lion, separated by intervening spoked chariot-wheels over a bell-shaped lotus. Carved out of a single block of polished sandstone
Sandstone
Sandstone is a sedimentary rock composed mainly of sand-sized minerals or rock grains.Most sandstone is composed of quartz and/or feldspar because these are the most common minerals in the Earth's crust. Like sand, sandstone may be any colour, but the most common colours are tan, brown, yellow,...

, the capital was believed to be crowned by a 'Wheel of Dharma
Dharma (Buddhism)
Dhamma or Dharma in Buddhism can have the following meanings:* The state of Nature as it is * The Laws of Nature considered collectively....

' (Dharmachakra popularly known in India as the "Ashoka Chakra
Ashoka Chakra
The Ashoka Chakra is depiction of the Buddhist Dharmachakra, represented with 24 spokes. It is so called because it appears on a number of edicts of Ashoka, most prominent among which is the Lion Capital of Sarnath which has been adopted as the National Emblem of the Republic of India.The most...

"), which has now been lost. There is a similar intact Ashoka pillar in Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

 (see photo) with a similar four lion capital intact and crowned with Ashoka Chakra / Dharmachakra.

See also

  • Ashoka Pillars
  • Sarnath Museum
    Sarnath Museum
    Museum at Sarnath is museum that houses the findings and excavations at Sarnath, by the Archaeological Survey of India, close to archaeological site.-Overview:...

  • National Emblem of India
  • National Flag of India
  • Ashoka Chakra
    Ashoka Chakra
    The Ashoka Chakra is depiction of the Buddhist Dharmachakra, represented with 24 spokes. It is so called because it appears on a number of edicts of Ashoka, most prominent among which is the Lion Capital of Sarnath which has been adopted as the National Emblem of the Republic of India.The most...


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