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Indian (Swat Valley), Model of a Stupa, green schist, 3rd century. H. 11 1/2 in. Gallery 30
In Buddhist belief, the stupa (meaning “crown of the head” or “summit”) symbolizes the mind of the Buddha. The various parts of the stupa correspond to the five elements of manifested existence: space/void, wind/air, fire, water, and earth. The domed shape also refers to the dome of the heavens. The spire rising from the middle represents the axis of the world. This portable shrine for traveling replicates the large, architectural structures that are places of Buddhist worship and veneration.
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