Seller: highrating_lowprice (20,590) 100%, Location: Rego Park, New York, Ships to: Worldwide, Item: 233008223434 Item: i36846 Authentic Ancient Coin of: Ancient Coin Kanishka Bronze Tetradrachm 26mm (17.41 grams) Struck 78-103 A.D. Reference: BMC 46; Whitehead 68. DAO KANhPKI, the king, wearing helmet and diadem, clad in coat and trousers, standing left with right hand outstretched over altar, holding spear in left hand. MIOPO, The Sun-god Mithras (or Possibly Mao), standing left, diademed with radiate disk, clad as the king, right hand outstretched and resting left hand on sword at waist, tamgha to left.* Numismatic Note: The depiction can be either of Mithra or Mao (as can possibly be seen written by the Baktrian on the right side and because of the moon crescents on the god's shoulders). You are bidding on the exact item pictured, provided with a Certificate of Authenticity and Lifetime Guarantee of Authenticity. The Mithraic Mysteries were a mystery religion practiced in the Roman Empire from about the 1st to 4th centuries AD. The name of the Persian god Mithra , adapted into Greek as Mithras, was linked to a new and distinctive imagery. Writers of the Roman Empire period referred to this mystery religion by phrases which can be anglicized as Mysteries of Mithras or Mysteries of the Persians; modern historians refer to it as Mithraism, or sometimes Roman Mithraism. The mysteries were popular in the Roman military . Double-faced Mithraic relief. Rome, 2nd to 3rd century AD (Louvre Museum) Worshippers of Mithras had a complex system of seven grades of initiation , with ritual meals. Initiates called themselves syndexioi, those "united by the handshake". They met in underground temples (called mithraea ), which survive in large numbers. The cult appears to have had its centre in Rome . Numerous archeological finds, including meeting places, monuments, and artifacts, have contributed to modern knowledge about Mithraism throughout the Roman Empire. The iconic scenes of Mithras show him being born from a rock, slaughtering a bull, and sharing a banquet with the god Sol (the Sun). About 420 sites have yielded materials related to the cult. Among the items found are about 1000 inscriptions, 700 examples of the bull-killing scene (tauroctony), and about 400 other monuments. It has been estimated that there would have been at least 680-690 Mithraea in Rome. No written narratives or theology from the religion survive, with limited information to be derived from the inscriptions, and only brief or passing references in Greek and Latin literature . Interpretation of the physical evidence remains problematic and contested. The Romans themselves regarded the mysteries as having Persian or Zoroastrian sources. Since the early 1970s, however, the dominant scholarship has noted dissimilarities between Persian Mithra-worship and the Roman Mithraic mysteries, and the mysteries of Mithras are now generally seen as a distinct product of the Roman Imperial religious world . In this context, Mithraism has sometimes been viewed as a rival of early Christianity . Mithras killing the bull. (Louvre-Lens) The name Mithras Bas-relief of the tauroctony of the Mithraic mysteries, Metz , France. The name Mithras (Latin, equivalent to Greek "Μίθρας",) is a form of Mithra , the name of an Old Persian god. (This point has been understood by Mithras scholars since the days of Franz Cumont .) An early example of the Greek form of the name is in a 4th-century BC work by Xenophon , the Cyropaedia , which is a biography of the Persian king Cyrus the Great . The exact form of a Latin or classical Greek word varies due to the grammatical process of declension . There is archeological evidence that in Latin worshippers wrote the nominative form of the god's name as "Mithras". However, in Porphyry 's Greek text De Abstinentia («Περὶ ἀποχῆς ἐμψύχων»), there is a reference to the now-lost histories of the Mithraic mysteries by Euboulus and Pallas, the wording of which suggests that these authors treated the name "Mithra" as an indeclinable foreign word. Related deity-names in other languages include Sanskrit Mitra (मित्रः) , the name of a god praised in the Rig Veda . In Sanskrit , "mitra" means "friend" or "friendship". the form mi-it-ra-, found in an inscribed peace treaty between the Hittites and the kingdom of Mitanni , from about 1400 BC. Modern historians have different conceptions about whether these names refer to the same god or not. John R. Hinnells has written of Mitra / Mithra / Mithras as a single deity worshipped in several different religions. On the other hand, David Ulansey considers the bull-slaying Mithras to be a new god who began to be worshipped in the 1st century BC, and to whom an old name was applied. Iconography Relief of Mithras as bull-slayer from Neuenheim near Heidelberg , framed by scenes from Mithras' life Much about the cult of Mithras is only known from reliefs and sculptures. There have been many attempts to interpret this material. Mithras-worship in the Roman Empire was characterized by images of the god slaughtering a bull. Other images of Mithras are found in the Roman temples, for instance Mithras banqueting with Sol, and depictions of the birth of Mithras from a rock. But the image of bull-slaying (tauroctony) is always in the central niche. Textual sources for a reconstruction of the theology behind this iconography are very rare. (See section Interpretations of the bull-slaying scene below.) The bull-slaying scene In every Mithraeum the centrepiece was a representation of Mithras killing a sacred bull, called the tauroctony. The image may be a relief, or free-standing, and side details may be present or omitted. The centre-piece is Mithras clothed in Anatolian costume and wearing a Phrygian cap ; who is kneeling on the exhausted bull, holding it by the nostrils with his left hand, and stabbing it with his right. As he does so, he looks over his shoulder towards the figure of Sol. A dog and a snake reach up towards the blood. A scorpion seizes the bull's genitals. A raven is flying around or is sitting on the bull. Three corns of wheat are seen coming out from the bull's tail, sometimes from the wound. The bull was often white. The god is sitting on the bull in an unnatural way with his right leg constraining the bull's hoof and the left leg is bent and resting on the bull's back or flank. The two torch-bearers are on either side, dressed like Mithras, Cautes with his torch pointing up and Cautopates with his torch pointing down. Sometimes Cautes and Cautopates carry shepherds' crooks instead of torches. Tauroctony from the Kunsthistorisches Museum The event takes place in a cavern, into which Mithras has carried the bull, after having hunted it, ridden it and overwhelmed its strength. Sometimes the cavern is surrounded by a circle, on which the twelve signs of the zodiac appear. Outside the cavern, top left, is Sol the sun, with his flaming crown, often driving a quadriga . A ray of light often reaches down to touch Mithras. Top right is Luna , with her crescent moon, who may be depicted driving a biga . In some depictions, the central tauroctony is framed by a series of subsidiary scenes to the left, top and right, illustrating events in the Mithras narrative; Mithras being born from the rock, the water miracle, the hunting and riding of the bull, meeting Sol who kneels to him, shaking hands with Sol and sharing a meal of bull-parts with him, and ascending to the heavens in a chariot. In some instances, as is the case in the stucco icon at Santa Prisca mithraeum, the god is shown heroically nude. Some of these reliefs were constructed so that they could be turned on an axis. On the back side was another, more elaborate feasting scene. This indicates that the bull killing scene was used in the first part of the celebration, then the relief was turned, and the second scene was used in the second part of the celebration. Besides the main cult icon, a number of mithraea had several secondary tauroctonies, and some small, portable versions, probably meant for private devotion have also been found. The banquet The second most important scene after the tauroctony in Mithraic art is the so-called banquet scene. The banquet scene features Mithras and the Sun god banqueting on the hide of the slaughtered bull. On the specific banquet scene on the Fiano Romano relief, one of the torchbearers points a caduceus towards the base of an altar, where flames appear to spring up. Robert Turcan has argued that since the caduceus is an attribute of Mercury , and in mythology Mercury is depicted as a psychopomp , the eliciting of flames in this scene is referring to the dispatch of human souls and expressing the Mithraic doctrine on this matter. Turcan also connects this event to the tauroctony: the blood of the slain bull has soaked the ground at the base of the altar, and from the blood the souls are elicited in flames by the caduceus. Birth from a rock Right: Mithras born from the rock (marble, 180–192 AD), from the area of S. Stefano Rotondo, Rome Mithras is depicted as being born from a rock. He is shown as emerging from a rock, already in his youth, with a dagger in one hand and a torch in the other. He is nude, is wearing a Phrygian cap and is holding his legs together. However, there are variations and sometimes he is shown as coming out of the rock as a child and in one instance he has a globe in one hand, sometimes a thunderbolt is seen. There are also depictions in which flames are shooting from the rock and also from Mithras' phrygian cap. One statue had its base perforated so that it could serve as a fountain and the base of another has the mask of the water god. Sometimes he also has other weapons like bows and arrows and there are also animals like dog, serpent, dolphin , eagle, some other birds, a lion, crocodile, lobster and snail around. On some reliefs, there is a bearded figure identified as Oceanus , the water god, and on some there are the four wind gods. In these reliefs, the four elements could be invoked together. Sometimes Victoria, Luna , Sol and Saturn also seem to play a role. Saturn particularly appears to hand over the dagger to Mithras so that he could perform his mighty deeds. In some depictions Cautes and Cautopates are also present and sometimes they become shepherds. On some occasions, an amphora is seen, and a few instances show variations like an egg birth or a tree birth. Some interpretations show that the birth of Mithras was celebrated by lighting torches or candles Drawing of the leontocephaline found at the mithraeum of C. Valerius Heracles and sons, dedicated 190 AD at Ostia Antica , Italy (CIMRM 312) Lion-headed figure One of the most characteristic features of the Mysteries is the naked lion-headed (leontocephaline) figure often found in Mithraic temples. He is entwined by a serpent, (or two serpents, like a caduceus ) with the snake's head often resting on the lion's head. The lion's mouth is often open, giving a horrifying impression. He is usually represented having four wings, two keys (sometimes a single key) and a scepter in his hand. Sometimes the figure is standing on a globe inscribed with a diagonal cross. In the figure shown here, the four wings carry the symbols of the four seasons and a thunderbolt is engraved on the breast. At the base of the statue are the hammer and tongs of Vulcan , the cock and the wand of Mercury . A more scarcely represented variant of the figure with a human head is also found Although animal-headed figures are prevalent in contemporary Egyptian and Gnostic mythological representations, an exact parallel to the Mithraic leontocephaline figure is not found. The name of the figure has been deciphered from dedicatory inscriptions to be Arimanius (though the archeological evidence is not very strong), which is nominally the equivalent of Ahriman , a demon figure in the Zoroastrian pantheon. Arimanius is known from inscriptions to have been a god in the Mithraic cult (CIMRM 222 from Ostia, 369 from Rome, 1773 and 1775 from Pannonia). While some scholars identify the lion-man as Aion (Zurvan, or Kronos) others assert that it is Ahriman. There is also speculation that the figure is the Gnostic demiurge , (Ariel) Ialdabaoth . Although the exact identity of the lion-headed figure is debated by scholars, it is largely agreed that the god is associated with time and seasonal change. Rituals and worship According to M.J.Vermaseren, the Mithraic New Year and the birthday of Mithras was on December 25. However, Beck disagrees strongly. Clauss states: "the Mithraic Mysteries had no public ceremonies of its own. The festival of natalis Invicti [Birth of the Unconquerable (Sun)], held on 25 December, was a general festival of the Sun, and by no means specific to the Mysteries of Mithras." Mithraic initiates were required to swear an oath of secrecy and dedication, and some grade rituals involved the recital of a catechism, wherein the initiate was asked a series of questions pertaining to the initiation symbolism and had to reply with specific answers. An example of such a catechism, apparently pertaining to the Leo grade, was discovered in a fragmentary Egyptian papyrus (P.Berolinensis 21196), and reads: ... He will say: 'Where ... ? ... he is/(you are?) there (then/thereupon?) at a loss?' Say: ... Say: 'Night'. He will say: 'Where ... ?' ... Say: 'All things ...' (He will say): '... you are called ... ?' Say: 'Because of the summery ...' ... having become ... he/it has the fiery ... (He will say): '... did you receive/inherit?' Say: 'In a pit'. He will say: 'Where is your ...?... (Say): '...(in the...) Leonteion.' He will say: 'Will you gird?' The (heavenly?) ...(Say): '... death'. He will say: 'Why, having girded yourself, ...?' '... this (has?) four tassels. Very sharp and ... '... much'. He will say: ...? (Say: '... because of/through?) hot and cold'. He will say: ...? (Say): '... red ... linen'. He will say: 'Why?' Say: '... red border; the linen, however, ...' (He will say): '... has been wrapped?' Say: 'The savior's ...' He will say: 'Who is the father?' Say: 'The one who (begets?) everything ...' (He will say): '('How ?)... did you become a Leo?' Say: 'By the ... of the father'. ... Say: 'Drink and food'. He will say '...?' '... in the seven-... Almost no Mithraic scripture or first-hand account of its highly secret rituals survives; with the exception of the aforementioned oath and catechism, and the document known as the Mithras Liturgy , from 4th century Egypt, whose status as a Mithraist text has been questioned by scholars including Franz Cumont. The walls of Mithraea were commonly whitewashed, and where this survives it tends to carry extensive repositories of graffiti ; and these, together with inscriptions on Mithraic monuments, form the main source for Mithraic texts. Nevertheless, it is clear from the archeology of numerous Mithraea that most rituals were associated with feasting – as eating utensils and food residues are almost invariably found. These tend to include both animal bones and also very large quantities of fruit residues. The presence of large amounts of cherry-stones in particular would tend to confirm mid-summer (late June, early July) as a season especially associated with Mithraic festivities. The Virunum album, in the form of an inscribed bronze plaque, records a Mithraic festival of commemoration as taking place on 26 June 184. Beck argues that religious celebrations on this date are indicative of special significance being given to the Summer solstice ; but equally it may well be noted that, in northern and central Europe, reclining on a masonry plinth in an unheated cave was likely to be a predominantly summertime activity. For their feasts, Mithraic initiates reclined on stone benches arranged along the longer sides of the Mithraeum – typically there might be room for 15–30 diners, but very rarely many more than 40 men. Counterpart dining rooms, or triclinia were to be found above ground in the precincts of almost any temple or religious sanctuary in the Roman empire, and such rooms were commonly used for their regular feasts by Roman 'clubs', or collegia . Mithraic feasts probably performed a very similar function for Mithraists as the collegia did for those entitled to join them; indeed, since qualification for Roman collegia tended to be restricted to particular families, localities or traditional trades, Mithraism may have functioned in part as providing clubs for the unclubbed. However, the size of the Mithraeum is not necessarily an indication of the size of the congregation. Each Mithraeum had several altars at the further end, underneath the representation of the tauroctony; and also commonly contained considerable numbers of subsidiary altars, both in the main Mithraeum chamber, and in the ante-chamber or narthex. These altars, which are of the standard Roman pattern, each carry a named dedicatory inscription from a particular initiate, who dedicated the altar to Mithras "in fulfillment of his vow", in gratitude for favours received. Burned residues of animal entrails are commonly found on the main altars indicating regular sacrificial use. However, Mithraea do not commonly appear to have been provided with facilities for ritual slaughter of sacrificial animals (a highly specialised function in Roman religion), and it may be presumed that a Mithraeum would have made arrangements for this service to be provided for them in co-operation with the professional victimarius of the civic cult. Prayers were addressed to the Sun three times a day and Sunday was especially sacred. It is doubtful whether Mithraism had a monolithic and internally consistent doctrine. It may have varied from location to location. However, the iconography is relatively coherent. It had no predominant sanctuary or cultic centre; and, although each Mithraeum had its own officers and functionaries, there was no central supervisory authority. In some Mithraea, such as that at Dura Europos wall paintings depict prophets carrying scrolls, but no named Mithraic sages are known, nor does any reference give the title of any Mithraic scripture or teaching. It is known that intitates could transfer with their grades from one Mithraeum to another. Temples of Mithras Temples of Mithras are sunk below ground, windowless, and very distinctive. In cities, the basement of an apartment block might be converted; elsewhere they might be excavated and vaulted over, or converted from a natural cave. Mithraic temples are common in the empire; although unevenly distributed, with considerable numbers found in Rome, Ostia , Numidia , Dalmatia , Britain and along the Rhine/Danube frontier; while being somewhat less common in Greece , Egypt , and Syria . According to Walter Burkert, the secret character of Mithriac rituals meant that Mithraism could only be practiced within a Mithraeum. Some new finds at Tienen show evidence of large scale feasting and the mystery religion may not have been as secretive as was generally believed. For the most part, Mithraea tend to be small, externally undistinguished, and cheaply constructed; the cult generally preferring to create a new centre rather than expand an existing one. The Mithraeum represented the cave in which Mithras carried and then killed the bull; and where stone vaulting could not be afforded, the effect would be imitated with lath and plaster. They are commonly located close to springs or streams; fresh water appears to have been required for some Mithraic rituals, and a basin is often incorporated into the structure. There is usually a narthex or ante-chamber at the entrance, and often other ancillary rooms for storage and the preparation of food. The extant mithraea present us with actual physical remains of the architectural structures of the sacred spaces of the Mithraic cult. Mithraeum is a modern coinage and mithraists referred to their sacred structures as speleum or antrum (cave), crypta (underground hallway or corridor), fanum (sacred or holy place), or even templum (a temple or a sacred space). In their basic form, Mithraea were entirely different from the temples and shrines of other cults. In standard pattern Roman religious precincts, the temple building functioned as a house for the god; who was intended to be able to view through the opened doors and columnar portico, sacrificial worship being offered on an altar set in an open courtyard; potentially accessible not only to initiates of the cult, but also to colitores or non-initiated worshippers. Mithraea were the antithesis of this. Degrees of initiation In the Suda under the entry "Mithras", it states that "no one was permitted to be initiated into them (the mysteries of Mithras), until he should show himself holy and steadfast by undergoing several graduated tests." Gregory Nazianzen refers to the "tests in the mysteries of Mithras". There were seven grades of initiation into the mysteries of Mithras, which are listed by St. Jerome. Manfred Clauss states that the number of grades, seven, must be connected to the planets. A mosaic in the Ostia Mithraeum of Felicissimus depicts these grades, with heraldic emblems that are connected either to the grades or are just symbols of the planets. The grades also have an inscription besides them commending each grade into the protection of the different planetary gods. In ascending order of importance the initiatory grades were: Grade Symbols Planet/tutelary deity Corax , Corux or Corvex (raven or crow) beaker , caduceus Mercury Nymphus, Nymphobus (Bridesman) lamp , hand bell , veil , circlet or diadem Venus Miles (soldier) pouch , helmet , lance , drum , belt , breastplate Mars Leo (lion) batillum , sistrum , laurel wreath , thunderbolts Jupiter Perses (Persian) akinakes , Phrygian cap , sickle , sickle moon and stars , sling pouch Luna Heliodromus (sun-runner) torch , images of the sun god , Helios whip , robes Sol Pater (father) patera , Mitre , shepherd's staff , garnet or ruby ring , chasuble or cape , elaborate robes jewel encrusted with metallic threads Saturn Elsewhere, as at Dura-Europos Mithraic graffiti survive giving membership lists, in which initiates of a Mithraeum are named with their Mithraic grades. At Virunum, the membership list or album sacratorum was maintained as an inscribed plaque, updated year by year as new members were initiated. By cross-referencing these lists it is sometimes possible to track initiates from one Mithraeum to another; and also speculatively to identify Mithraic initiates with persons on other contemporary lists - such as military service rolls, of lists of devotees of non-Mithraic religious sanctuaries. Names of initiates are also found in the dedication inscriptions of altars and other cult objects. Clauss noted in 1990 that overall, only about 14% of Mithriac names inscribed before 250 identify the initiates grade - and hence questioned that the traditional view that all initiates belonged to one of the seven grades. Clauss argues that the grades represented a distinct class of priests, sacerdotes. Gordon maintains the former theory of Merkelbach and others, especially noting such examples as Dura where all names are associated with a Mithraic grade. Some scholars maintain that practice may have differed over time, or from one Mithraea to another. The highest grade, pater, is far the most common found on dedications and inscriptions - and it would appear not to have been unusual for a Mithraeum to have several persons with this grade. The form pater patrum (father of fathers) is often found, which appears to indicate the pater with primary status. There are several examples of persons, commonly those of higher social status, joining a Mithraeum with the status pater - especially in Rome during the 'pagan revival' of the 4th century. It has been suggested that some Mithraea may have awarded honorary pater status to sympathetic dignitaries. The initiate into each grade appears to have required to undertake a specific ordeal or test, involving exposure to heat, cold or threatened peril. An 'ordeal pit', dating to the early 3rd century, has been identified in the Mithraeum at Carrawburgh . Accounts of the cruelty of the emperor Commodus describes his amusing himself by enacting Mithriac initiation ordeals in homicidal form. By the later 3rd century, the enacted trials appear to have been abated in rigor, as 'ordeal pits' were floored over. Ritual re-enactments Activities of the most prominent deities in Mithraic scenes, Sol and Mithras, were imitated in rituals by the two most senior officers in the cult's hierarchy, the Pater and the Heliodromus. The initiates held a sacramental banquet, replicating the feast of Mithras and Sol. Reliefs on a cup found in Mainz ,appear to depict a Mithraic initiation. On the cup, the initiate is depicted as led into a location where a Pater would be seated in the guise of Mithras with a drawn bow. Accompanying the initiate is a mystagogue , who explains the symbolism and theology to the initiate. The Rite is thought to re-enact what has come to be called the 'Water Miracle', in which Mithras fires a bolt into a rock, and from the rock now spouts water. Roger Beck has hypothesized a third processional Mithraic ritual, based on the Mainz cup and Porphyrys. This so-called Procession of the Sun-Runner features the Heliodromus, escorted by two figures representing Cautes and Cautopates (see below) and preceded by an initiate of the grade Miles leading a ritual enactment of the solar journey around the mithraeum, which was intended to represent the cosmos. Consequently it has been argued that most Mithraic rituals involved a re-enactment by the initiates of episodes in the Mithras narrative, a narrative whose main elements were; birth from the rock, striking water from stone with an arrow shot, the killing of the bull, Sol's submission to Mithras, Mithras and Sol feasting on the bull, the ascent of Mithras to heaven in a chariot. A noticeable feature of this narrative (and of its regular depiction in surviving sets of relief carvings) is the complete absence of female personages. Membership Only male names appear in surviving inscribed membership lists. Historians including Cumont and Richard Gordon have concluded that the cult was for men only The ancient scholar Porphyry refers to female initiates in Mithraic rites. However, the early 20th-century historian A.S. Geden writes that this may be due to a misunderstanding. According to Geden, while the participation of women in the ritual was not unknown in the Eastern cults, the predominant military influence in Mithraism makes it unlikely in this instance. It has recently been suggested by David Jonathan that "women were involved with Mithraic groups in at least some locations of the empire." Soldiers were strongly represented amongst Mithraists; and also merchants, customs officials and minor bureaucrats. Few, if any, initiates came from leading aristocratic or senatorial families until the 'pagan revival' of the mid 4th century; but there were always considerable numbers of freedmen and slaves. Ethics Clauss suggests that a statement by Porphyry, that people initiated into the Lion grade must keep their hands pure from everything that brings pain and harm and is impure, means that moral demands were made upon members of congregations. A passage in the Caesares of Julian the Apostate refers to "commandments of Mithras". Tertullian , in his treatise 'On the Military Crown' records that Mithraists in the army were officially excused from wearing celebratory coronets; on the basis that the Mithraic initiation ritual included refusing a proffered crown, because "their only crown was Mithras". History and development Mithras before the Mysteries Mithras-Helios, in Phrygian cap with solar rays, with Antiochus I of Commagene. (Mt Nemrut, first century BC) According to the archaeologist Maarten Vermaseren, 1st century BC evidence from Commagene demonstrates the "reverence paid to Mithras" but does not refer to "the mysteries". In the colossal statuary erected by King Antiochus I (69–34 BC) at Mount Nemrut , Mithras is shown beardless, wearing a Phrygian cap , and was originally seated on a throne alongside other deities and the king himself. On the back of the thrones there is an inscription in Greek, which includes the name Apollo Mithras Helios in the genitive case (Ἀπόλλωνος Μίθρου Ἡλίου). Vermaseren also reports about a Mithras cult in 3rd; century BC. Fayum. R. D. Barnett has argued that the royal seal of King Saussatar of Mitanni from c. 1450 BC. depicts a tauroctonous Mithras. Beginnings of Roman Mithraism The origins and spread of the Mysteries have been intensely debated among scholars and there are radically differing views on these issues. According to Clauss mysteries of Mithras were not practiced until the 1st century AD. According to Ulansey, the earliest evidence for the Mithraic mysteries places their appearance in the middle of the 1st century BC: the historian Plutarch says that in 67 BC the pirates of Cilicia (a province on the southeastern coast of Asia Minor) were practicing "secret rites" of Mithras. However, according to Daniels, whether any of this relates to the origins of the mysteries is unclear. The unique underground temples or Mithraea appear suddenly in the archaeology in the last quarter of the 1st century AD. Earliest archaeology Inscriptions and monuments related to the Mithraic Mysteries are catalogued in a two volume work by Maarten J. Vermaseren, the (or CIMRM) Corpus Inscriptionum et Monumentorum Religionis Mithriacae. The earliest monument showing Mithras slaying the bull is thought to be CIMRM 593, found in Rome. There is no date, but the inscription tells us that it was dedicated by a certain Alcimus, steward of T. Claudius Livianus. Vermaseren and Gordon believe that this Livianus is a certain Livianus who was commander of the Praetorian guard in 101 AD, which would give an earliest date of 98-99 AD. Five small terracotta plaques of a figure holding a knife over a bull have been excavated near Kerch in the Crimea , dated by Beskow and Clauss to the second half of the 1st century BC, and by Beck to 50 BC-50 AD. These may be the earliest tauroctonies, if they are accepted to be a depiction of Mithras. The bull-slaying figure wears a Phrygian cap, but is described by Beck and Beskow as otherwise unlike standard depictions of the tauroctony. Another reason for not connecting these artifacts with the Mithraic Mysteries is that the first of these plaques was found in a woman's tomb. An altar or block from near SS. Pietro e Marcellino on the Esquiline in Rome was inscribed with a bilingual inscription by an Imperial freedman named T. Flavius Hyginus, probably between 80-100 AD. It is dedicated to Sol Invictus Mithras. CIMRM 2268 is a broken base or altar from Novae/Steklen in Moesia Inferior, dated 100 AD, showing Cautes and Cautopates. Other early archaeology includes the Greek inscription from Venosia by Sagaris actor probably from 100–150 AD; the Sidon cippus dedicated by Theodotus priest of Mithras to Asclepius, 140-141 AD; and the earliest military inscription, by C. Sacidius Barbarus, centurion of XV Apollinaris, from the bank of the Danube at Carnuntum , probably before 114 AD. According to C.M.Daniels, the Carnuntum inscription is the earliest Mithraic dedication from the Danube region, which along with Italy is one of the two regions where Mithraism first struck root. The earliest dateable Mithraeum outside Rome dates from 148 AD. The Mithraeum at Caesarea Maritima is the only one in Palestine and the date is inferred. Earliest cult locations According to Roger Beck, the attested locations of the Roman cult in the earliest phase (c. 80–120 AD) are as follows: Classical literature about Mithras and the Mysteries Mithras and the Bull: This fresco from the mithraeum at Marino, Italy (third century) shows the tauroctony and the celestial lining of Mithras' cape. According to Boyce, the earliest literary references to the mysteries are by the Latin poet Statius, about 80 AD, and Plutarch (c. 100 AD). Statius The Thebaid (c.80 AD) an epic poem by Statius , pictures Mithras in a cave, wrestling with something that has horns. The context is a prayer to the god Phoebus . The cave is described as persei, which in this context is usually translated "Persian", however according to the translator J.H.Mozley it literally means "Persean", referring to Perses the son of Persius and Andromeda ; this Perses being the ancestor of the Persians according to Greek legend. Plutarch The Greek biographer Plutarch (46 - 127 AD) says that "secret mysteries... of Mithras" were practiced by the pirates of Cilicia , the coastal province in the southeast of Anatolia , who were active in the 1st century BC: "They likewise offered strange sacrifices; those of Olympus I mean; and they celebrated certain secret mysteries, among which those of Mithras continue to this day, being originally instituted by them." He mentions that the pirates were especially active during the Mithridatic wars (between the Roman Republic and King Mithridates VI of Pontus ) in which they supported the king. The association between Mithridates and the pirates is also mentioned by the ancient historian Appian . The 4th century commentary on Vergil by Servius says that Pompey settled some of these pirates in Calabria in southern Italy. Dio Cassius The historian Dio Cassius (2nd to 3rd century AD) tells how the name of Mithras was spoken during the state visit to Rome of Tiridates I of Armenia , during the reign of Nero. (Tiridates was the son of Vonones II of Parthia , and his coronation by Nero in 66 AD confirmed the end of a war between Parthia and Rome.) Dio Cassius writes that Tiridates, as he was about to receive his crown, told the Roman emperor that he revered him "as Mithras". Roger Beck thinks it possible that this episode contributed to the emergence of Mithraism as a popular religion in Rome. Porphyry The philosopher Porphyry (3rd-4th century AD) gives an account of the origins of the Mysteries in his work De antro nympharum (The Cave of the Nymphs). Citing Eubulus as his source, Porphyry writes that the original temple of Mithras was a natural cave, containing fountains, which Zoroaster found in the mountains of Persia. To Zoroaster, this cave was an image of the whole world, so he consecrated it to Mithras, the creator of the world. Later in the same work, Porphyry links Mithras and the bull with planets and star-signs: Mithras himself is associated with the sign of Aries and the planet Mars, while the bull is associated with Venus . Porphyry is writing close to the demise of the cult, and Robert Turcan has challenged the idea that Porphyry's statements about Mithraism are accurate. His case is that far from representing what Mithraists believed, they are merely representations by the Neoplatonists of what it suited them in the late 4th century to read into the mysteries. However, Merkelbach and Beck believe that Porphyry's work "is in fact thoroughly coloured with the doctrines of the Mysteries." Beck holds that classical scholars have neglected Porphyry's evidence and have taken an unnecessarily skeptical view of Porphyry. According to Beck, Porphyry's De antro is the only clear text from antiquity which tells us about the intent of the Mithriac Mysteries and how that intent was realized. David Ulansey finds it important that Porphyry "confirms... that astral conceptions played an important role in Mithraism." Mithras Liturgy In later antiquity, the Greek name of Mithras (Μίθρας) occurs in the text known as the Mithras Liturgy , part of the Paris Great Magical Papyrus (Paris Bibliotheque Nationale Suppl. gr. 574); here Mithras is given the epithet "the great god", and is identified with the sun god Helios . There have been different views among scholars as to whether this text is an expression of Mithraism as such. Franz Cumont argued that it isn't; Marvin Meyer thinks it is; while Hans Dieter Betz sees it as a synthesis of Greek, Egyptian, and Mithraic traditions. Later history The first important expansion of the mysteries in the Empire seems to have happened quite quickly, late in the reign of Antoninus Pius (b. 121 CE, d. 180 CE) and under Marcus Aurelius . By this time all the key elements of the mysteries were in place. Sol Invictus from the Archaeological Museum of Milan (Museo archeologico) Mithraism reached the apogee of its popularity during the 2nd and 3rd centuries, spreading at an "astonishing" rate at the same period when Sol Invictus became part of the state. At this period a certain Pallas devoted a monograph to Mithras, and a little later Euboulus wrote a History of Mithras, although both works are now lost. According to the 4th century Historia Augusta , the emperor Commodus participated in its mysteries but it never became one of the state cults. The end of Roman Mithraism It is difficult to trace when the cult of Mithras came to an end. Beck states that "Quite early in the [fourth] century the religion was as good as dead throughout the empire." Inscriptions from the 4th century are few. Clauss states that inscriptions show Mithras as one of the cults listed on inscriptions by Roman senators who had not converted to Christianity, as part of the "pagan revival" among the elite. Ulansey holds that "Mithraism declined with the rise to power of Christianity, until the beginning of the fifth century, when Christianity became strong enough to exterminate by force rival religions such as Mithraism." According to Speidel, Christians fought fiercely with this feared enemy and suppressed it during the 4th century. Some Mithraic sanctuaries were destroyed and religion was no longer a matter of personal choice. According to Luther H. Martin, Roman Mithraism came to an end with the anti-pagan decrees of the Christian emperor Theodosius during the last decade of the 4th century. At some of the mithraeums which have been found below churches, for example the Santa Prisca mithraeum and the San Clemente mithraeum, the ground plan of the church above was made in a way to symbolize Christianity's domination of Mithraism. According to Mark Humphries, the deliberate concealment of Mithraic cult objects in some areas suggests that precautions were being taken against Christian attacks. However, in areas like the Rhine frontier, purely religious considerations cannot explain the end of Mithraism and barbarian invasions may also have played a role. There is virtually no evidence for the continuance of the cult of Mithras into the 5th century. In particular large numbers of votive coins deposited by worshippers have been recovered at the Mithraeum at Pons Sarravi (Sarrebourg) in Gallia Belgica, in a series that runs from Gallienus (253-68) to Theodosius I (379-395). These were scattered over the floor when the Mithraeum was destroyed, as Christians apparently regarded the coins as polluted; and they therefore provide reliable dates for the functioning of the Mithraeum. It cannot be shown that any Mithraeum continued in use in the 5th century. The coin series in all Mithraea end at the end of the 4th century at the latest. The cult disappeared earlier than that of Isis. Isis was still remembered in the middle ages as a pagan deity, but Mithras was already forgotten in late antiquity. Cumont stated in his book that Mithraism may have survived in certain remote cantons of the Alps and Vosges into the 5th century. Interpretations of the bull-slaying scene David Ulansey finds astronomical evidence from the mithraeum itself. He reminds us that the Platonic writer Porphyry wrote in the 3rd century AD that the cave-like temple Mithraea depicted "an image of the world" and that Zoroaster consecrated a cave resembling the world fabricated by Mithras. The ceiling of the Caesarea Maritima Mithraeum retains traces of blue paint, which may mean the ceiling was painted to depict the sky and the stars. Beck has given the following celestial anatomy of the Tauroctony: Component of Tauroctony Celestial Counterpart Bull Taurus Sol Sun Luna Moon Dog Canis Minor , Canis Major Snake Hydra , Serpens , Draco Raven Corvus Scorpion Scorpius Wheat's ear (on bull's tail) Spica Twins Cautes and Cautopates Gemini Lion Leo Crater Crater Cave Universe Several celestial identities for the Tauroctonous Mithras (TM) himself have been proposed. Beck summarizes them in the table below. Ulansey has proposed that Mithras seems to have been derived from the constellation of Perseus , which is positioned just above Taurus in the night sky. He sees iconographic and mythological parallels between the two figures: both are young heroes, carry a dagger and wear a Phrygian cap. He also mentions the similarity of the image of Perseus killing the Gorgon and the tauroctony, both figures being associated with underground caverns and both having connections to Persia as further evidence. Michael Speidel associates Mithras with the constellation of Orion because of the proximity to Taurus, and the consistent nature of the depiction of the figure as having wide shoulders, a garment flared at the hem, and narrowed at the waist with a belt, thus taking on the form of the constellation. Beck has criticized Speidel and Ulansey of adherence to a literal cartographic logic, describing their theories as a "will-o'-the-wisp" which "lured them down a false trail." He argues that a literal reading of the tauroctony as a star chart raises two major problems: it is difficult to find a constellation counterpart for Mithras himself (despite efforts by Speidel and Ulansey) and that unlike in a star chart, each feature of the tauroctony might have more than a single counterpart. Rather than seeing Mithras as a constellation, Beck argues that Mithras is the prime traveller on the celestial stage (represented by the other symbols of the scene), the Unconquered Sun moving through the constellations. But again, Meyer holds that the Mithras Liturgy reflects the world of Mithraism and may be a confirmation for Ulansey's theory of Mithras being held responsible for the precession of equinoxes. Mithras and other gods Mithras riding bull Main article: Mithras in comparison with other belief systems The cult of Mithras was part of the syncretic nature of ancient Roman religion . Almost all Mithraea contain statues dedicated to gods of other cults, and it is common to find inscriptions dedicated to Mithras in other sanctuaries, especially those of Jupiter Dolichenus. Mithraism was not an alternative to Rome's other traditional religions, but was one of many forms of religious practice; and many Mithraic initiates can also be found participating in the civic religion , and as initiates of other mystery cults. Mithraism and Christianity Early Christian apologists noted similarities between Mithraic and Christian rituals, but nonetheless took an extremely negative view of Mithraism: they interpreted Mithraic rituals as evil copies of Christian ones.For instance, Tertullian wrote that as a prelude to the Mithraic initiation ceremony, the initiate was given a ritual bath and at the end of the ceremony, received a mark on the forehead. He described these rites as a diabolical counterfeit of the baptism and chrismation of Christians. Justin Martyr contrasted Mithraic initiation communion with the Eucharist : Wherefore also the evil demons in mimicry have handed down that the same thing should be done in the Mysteries of Mithras. For that bread and a cup of water are in these mysteries set before the initiate with certain speeches you either know or can learn. Marvin Meyer comments that "early Christianity ... in general, resembles Mithraism in a number of respects – enough to make Christian apologists scramble to invent creative theological explanations to account for the similarities." Ernest Renan suggested in 1882 that, under different circumstances, Mithraism might have risen to the prominence of modern-day Christianity. Renan wrote: "if the growth of Christianity had been arrested by some mortal malady, the world would have been Mithraic…" However, this theory has since been contested: Leonard Boyle wrote in 1987 that "too much ... has been made of the 'threat' of Mithraism to Christianity," pointing out that there are only fifty known mithraea in the entire city of Rome. J. A. Ezquerra holds that since the two religions did not share similar aims, there was never any real threat of Mithraism taking over the Roman world. According to Mary Boyce, Mithraism was a potent enemy for Christianity in the West, though she is skeptical about its hold in the East.Filippo Coarelli (1979) has tabulated forty actual or possible Mithraea and estimated that Rome would have had "not less than 680–690" mithraea. Lewis M. Hopfe states that more than 400 Mithraic sites have been found. These sites are spread all over the Roman empire from places as far as Dura Europos in the east, and England in the west. He too says that Mithraism may have been a rival of Christianity. David Ulansey thinks Renan's statement "somewhat exaggerated", but does consider Mithraism "one of Christianity's major competitors in the Roman Empire". Ulansey sees study of Mithraism as important for understanding "the cultural matrix out of which the Christian religion came to birth". On the basis of his astronomical interpretation of Mithraism, Ulansey argues for a "profound kinship between Mithraism and Christianity", in that Mithras, like Jesus Christ, was considered to be "a being from beyond the universe". Ulansey suggests that these two figures, Mithras and Jesus, "are to some extent both manifestations of a single deep longing in the human spirit". Kanishka (Kanishka the Great), (Sanskrit: कनिष्क, Bactrian language : Κανηϸκι, Middle Chinese : 迦腻色伽 (Ka-ni-sak-ka > New Chinese: Jianisejia)) was an emperor of the Kushan dynasty (127–151) who ruled an empire extending from Turfan in the Tarim Basin to Pataliputra on the Gangetic plain and famous for his military, political, and spiritual achievements. His main capital was at Purushpura (Peshawar in present-day Khyber Pakhtunkhwa , Pakistan ) with regional capitals at the location of present-day Bagram in Afghanistan and Mathura in India . Genealogy Vima Kadphises was Kanishka's father. British Museum . Kanishka was the successor of Vima Kadphises , as demonstrated by an impressive genealogy of the Kushan kings, known as the Rabatak inscription . The connection of Kanishka with other Kushan rulers is described in the Rabatak inscription as Kanishka makes the list of the kings who ruled up to his time: Kujula Kadphises as his great-grandfather, Vima Taktu as his grandfather, Vima Kadphises as his father, and himself Kanishka: "... for King Kujula Kadphises (his) great grandfather, and for King Vima Taktu (his) grandfather, and for King Vima Kadphises (his) father, and *also for himself, King Kanishka" A number of legends about Kanishka, a great patron of Buddhism, were preserved in Buddhist religious traditions. Along with the Indian kings Ashoka and Harshavardhana , and the Indo-Greek king Menander I (Milinda), he is considered by Buddhists to have been one of the greatest Buddhist kings. Kanishka's era Kanishka's era was used as a calendar reference by the Kushans and later by the Guptas in Mathura for about three centuries. Kanishka's era is now believed by many to have begun in 127 AD on the basis of Harry Falk's ground-breaking research. The actual source, however, gives 227 AD as Year One of a Kuṣâṇa century without mentioning Kanishka's name. Since Kuṣâṇa centuries always "drop the hundreds" an incept of 127 AD was deduced by Falk on the basis of Chinese and other sources. This date and reference are disputed by some scholars. Conquests in South and Central Asia Kushan territories (full line) and maximum extent of Kushan dominions under Kanishka (dotted line), according to the Rabatak inscription . Kanishka's empire was certainly vast. It extended from southern Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, north of the Amu Darya (Oxus) in the north west to Northern India, as far as Mathura in the south east (the Rabatak inscription even claims he held Pataliputra and Sri Champa), and his territory also included Kashmir , where there was a town Kanishkapur, named after him not far from the Baramula Pass and which still contains the base of a large stupa. Bronze coin of Kanishka, found in Khotan , modern China. Knowledge of his hold over Central Asia is less well established. The Hou HanshuBook of the Later Han, , states that general Ban Chao fought battles near Khotan with a Kushan army of 70,000 men led by an otherwise unknown Kushan viceroy named Xie (Chinese: 謝) in 90 AD. Though Ban Chao claimed to be victorious, forcing the Kushans to retreat by use of a scorched-earth policy, the region fell to Kushan forces in the early 2nd century. As a result, for a period (until the Chinese regained control c. 127 AD) the territory of the Kushans extended for a short period as far as Kashgar , Khotan and Yarkand , which were Chinese dependencies in the Tarim Basin , modern Xinjiang . Several coins of Kanishka have been found in the Tarim Basin . Controlling both the land (the Silk Road ) and sea trade routes between South Asia and Rome seems to have been one of Kanishka's chief imperial goals. Kanishka's coins Gold coin of Kanishka I with the Hellenistic divinity Helios . (c. 120 AD). Obverse: Kanishka standing, clad in heavy Kushan coat and long boots, flames emanating from shoulders, holding a standard in his left hand, and making a sacrifice over an altar. Greek legend ΒΑΣΙΛΕΥΣ ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΝ ΚΑΝΗϷΚΟΥ "[coin] of Kanishka, king of kings". Reverse: Standing Helios in Hellenistic style, forming a benediction gesture with the right hand. Legend in Greek script: ΗΛΙΟΣ Helios. Kanishka monogram (tamgha) to the left. On his coins, the king is typically depicted as a bearded man in a long coat and trousers gathered at the ankle, with flames emanating from his shoulders. He wears large rounded boots, and is armed with a long sword similar to a scimitar as well as a lance. He is frequently seen to be making a sacrifice on a small altar. The lower half of a lifesize limestone relief of Kanishka similarly attired, with a stiff embroidered surplice beneath his coat and spurs attached to his boots under the light gathered folds of his trousers, survived in the Kabul Museum until it was destroyed by the Taliban. Hellenistic phase A few coins at the beginning of his reign have a legend in the Greek language and script: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΥΣ ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΝ ΚΑΝΗϷΚΟΥ, basileus basileon kaneshkou "[coin] of Kanishka, king of kings." Greek deities, with Greek names are represented on these early coins: ΗΛΙΟΣ (ēlios, Hēlios ), ΗΦΑΗΣΤΟΣ (ēphaēstos, Hephaistos ), ΣΑΛΗΝΗ (salēnē, Selene ), ΑΝΗΜΟΣ (anēmos, Anemos ) The inscriptions in Greek are full of spelling and syntactical errors. Following the transition to the Bactrian language on coins,Indic divinities replace the Greek ones: ΑΡΔΟΧϷΟ (ardoxsho, Ashi Vanghuhi ) ΛΡΟΟΑΣΠΟ (lrooaspo, Drvaspa ) ΑΘϷΟ (adsho, Atar ) ΦΑΡΡΟ (pharro, personified khwarenah ) ΜΑΟ (mao, Mah ) ΜΙΘΡΟ, ΜΙΙΡΟ, ΜΙΟΡΟ, ΜΙΥΡΟ (mithro, miiro, mioro, miuro, variants of Mithra ) ΜΟΖΔΟΟΑΝΟ (mozdaooano, "Mazda the victorious?") ΝΑΝΑ, ΝΑΝΑΙΑ, ΝΑΝΑϷΑΟ (variants of pan-Asiatic Nana, Sogdian nny, in a Zoroastrian context Aredvi Sura Anahita ) ΜΑΝΑΟΒΑΓΟ (manaobago, Vohu Manah ) ΟΑΔΟ (oado, Vata ) ΟΡΑΛΑΓΝΟ (orlagno, Verethragna ) Only a few Buddhist divinities were used as well: ΒΟΔΔΟ (boddo, Buddha ), ϷΑΚΑΜΑΝΟ ΒΟΔΔΟ (shakamano boddho, Shakyamuni Buddha ) ΜΕΤΡΑΓΟ ΒΟΔΔΟ (metrago boddo, the bodhisattava Maitreya ) Additionally, ΟΗϷΟ (oesho) was long considered to represent Indic Shiva , but recent studies indicate that oesho is Avestan Vayu conflated with Shiva. Kanishka and Buddhism Gold coin of Kanishka I with a representation of the Buddha (c.120 AD). Obv: Kanishka standing.., clad in heavy Kushan coat and long boots, flames emanating from shoulders, holding standard in his left hand, and making a sacrifice over an altar. Kushan-language legend in Greek script (with the addition of the Kushan Ϸ "sh" letter): ϷΑΟΝΑΝΟϷΑΟ ΚΑΝΗϷΚΙ ΚΟϷΑΝΟ ("Shaonanoshao Kanishki Koshano"): "King of Kings, Kanishka the Kushan". Rev: Standing Buddha in Hellenistic style, forming the gesture of "no fear" (abhaya mudra) with his right hand, and holding a pleat of his robe in his left hand. Legend in Greek script: ΒΟΔΔΟ "Boddo", for the Buddha. Kanishka monogram (tamgha) to the right. Kanishka's reputation in Buddhist tradition is based mainly that he convened the 4th Buddhist Council in Kashmir . Images of the Buddha based on 32 physical signs were made during his time. He provided encouragement to both the Gandhara school of Greco-Buddhist Art and the Mathura school of Hindu art (An inescapable religious syncretism pervades Kushana rule). Kanishka personally seems to have embraced both Buddhism and the Persian cult of Mithra . His greatest contribution to Buddhist architecture was the Kanishka stupa at Peshawar , Pakistan. Archaeologists who rediscovered the base of it in 1908–1909 ascertained that this stupa had a diameter of 286 feet (87 metres). Reports of Chinese pilgrims such as Xuan Zang indicate that its height was 600 to 700 (Chinese) "feet" (= roughly 180–210 metres or 591–689 ft.) and was covered with jewels. Certainly this immense multi-storied building ranks among the wonders of the ancient world. Kanishka is said to have been particularly close to the Buddhist scholar Ashvaghosha , who became his religious advisor in his later years. At the time of Kanishka's coronation and when India's first gold coin was minted, Yuz Asaf was the spiritual advisor to the king. Buddhist coinage The Buddhist coins of Kanishka are comparatively rare (well under one percent of all known coins of Kanishka). Several show Kanishka on the obverse and the Buddha standing on the reverse, in Hellenistic style. A few also show the Shakyamuni Buddha and Maitreya . Like all coins of Kanishka, the design is rather rough and proportions tend to be imprecise; the image of the Buddha is often slightly corrupted, with oversize ears and feet spread apart in the same fashion as the Kushan king, indicating clumsy imitation of Hellenistic types. Three types of Kanishka's Buddhist coins are known: Standing Buddha Bronze standing Buddha with features similar to those of Kanishka's coins. Gandhara , usually dated 3rd–4th century. The standing Buddha in Hellenistic style, bearing the mention "Boddo" in Greek script, holding the left corner of his cloack in his hand, and forming the abhaya mudra . Only six Kushan coins of the Buddha are known in gold (the sixth one is the centerpiece of an ancient piece of jewellery, consisting of a Kanishka Buddha coin decorated with a ring of heart-shaped ruby stones). All these coins were minted in gold under Kanishka I, and are in two different denominations: a dinar of about 8 gm, roughly similar to a Roman aureus , and a quarter dinar of about 2 gm. (about the size of an obol ). The Buddha is represented wearing the monastic robe, the antaravasaka , the uttarasanga , and the overcoat sanghati . The ears are extremely large and long, a symbolic exaggeration possibly rendered necessary by the small size of the coins, but otherwise visible in some later Gandharan statues of the Buddha typically dated to the 3rd–4th century CE. He has an abundant topknot covering the usnisha , often highly stylised in a curly or often globular manner, also visible on later Buddha statues of Gandhara. In general, the representation of the Buddha on these coins is already highly symbolic, and quite distant from the more naturalistic and Hellenistic images seen in early Gandhara sculptures. On several design, a mustache is apparent. The palm of his right hand bears the Chakra mark, and his brow bear the urna. An aureola , formed by one, two or three lines, surrounds him. "Shakyamuni Buddha" Depictions of the "Shakyamuni Buddha" (with legend ϷΑΚΑΜΑΝΟ ΒΟΔΔΟ "Shakamano Boddo") in Kanishka's coinage. The Shakyamuni Buddha (with the legend "Sakamano Boudo", i.e. Shakamuni Buddha, another name for the historic Buddha Siddharta Gautama ), standing to front, with left hand on hip and forming the abhaya mudra with the right hand. All these coins are in copper only, and usually rather worn. The gown of the Shakyamuni Buddha is quite light compared to that on the coins in the name of Buddha, clearly showing the outline of the body, in a nearly transparent way. These are probably the first two layers of monastic clothing the antaravasaka and the uttarasanga . Also, his gown is folded over the left arm (rather than being held in the left hand as above), a feature only otherwise known in the Bimaran casket and suggestive of a scarf-like uttariya . He has an abundant topknot covering the ushnisha , and a simple or double halo , sometimes radiating, surrounds his head. "Maitreya Buddha" Depictions of "Maitreya" (with legend ΜΕΤΡΑΓΟ ΒΟΔΔΟ "Metrago Boddo") in Kanishka's coinage. The Bodhisattva Maitreya (with the legend "Metrago Boudo") cross-legged on a throne, holding a water pot, and also forming the Abhaya mudra . These coins are only known in copper and are badly worn. On the clearest coins, Maitreya seems to be wearing the armbands of an Indian prince, a feature often seen on the staruary of Maitreya. The throne is decorated with small columns, suggesting that the coin representation of Maitreya was directly copied from pre-existing statuary with such well-known features. The qualification of "Buddha" for Maitreya is inaccurate, as he is instead a Bodhisattva (he is the Buddha of the future). This may indicate a limited knowledge of Buddhist cosmology on the part of the Kushans. The iconography of these three types is very different from that of the other deities depicted in Kanishka's coinage. Whether Kanishka's deities are all shown from the side, the Buddhas only are shown frontally, indicating that they were copied from contemporary frontal representations of the standing and seated Buddhas in statuary. Both representations of the Buddha and Shakyamuni have both shoulders covered by their monastic gown, indicating that the statues used as models were from the Gandhara school of art, rather than Mathura . Kanishka casket Kanishka casket The "Kanishka casket", dated to 127 CE , with the Buddha surrounded by Brahma and Indra , and Kanishka standing at the center of the lower part, British Museum . Remnants of the Kanishka Stupa in Shah-Ji-Ki-Dheri . Buddha relics from Kanishka's stupa in Peshawar, Pakistan, sent by the British to Mandalay , Burma in 1910. The "Kanishka casket" or "Kanishka reliquary", dated to the first year of Kanishka's reign in 127 CE, was discovered in a deposit chamber under Kanishka's stupa , during the archaeological excavations in 1908–1909 in Shah-Ji-Ki-Dheri on the outskirts of Peshawar . It is today at the Peshawar Museum, and a copy is in the British Museum . It is said to have contained three bone fragments of the Buddha, which are now housed in Mandalay , Burma. The casket is dedicated in Kharoshthi . The inscription reads: "(*mahara)jasa kanishkasa kanishka-pure nagare aya gadha-karae deya-dharme sarva-satvana hita-suhartha bhavatu mahasenasa sagharaki dasa agisala nava-karmi ana*kanishkasa vihare mahasenasa sangharame" The text is signed by the maker, a Greek artist named Agesilas, who oversaw work at Kanishka's stupas (caitya), confirming the direct involvement of Greeks with Buddhist realisations at such a late date: "The servant Agisalaos, the superintendent of works at the vihara of Kanishka in the monastery of Mahasena" ("dasa agisala nava-karmi ana*kaniskasa vihara mahasenasa sangharame"). The attribution of the casket to Kanishka has been recently disputed, essentially on stylistic ground (for example the ruler shown on the casket is not bearded, to the contrary of Kanishka). Instead, the casket is often attributed to Kanishka's successor Huvishka . Kanishka in Buddhist tradition In Buddhist tradition, Kanishka is often described as a violent, faithless ruler before his conversion to Buddhism, as in the Sri-dharma-pitaka-nidana sutra: "At this time the King of Ngan-si (Pahlava) was very stupid and of a violent nature….There was a bhikshu (monk) arhat who seeing the evil deeds done by the king wished to make him repent. So by his supernatural force he caused the king to see the torments of hell. The king was terrified and repented." Śri-dharma-piṭaka-nidāna sūtra Additionally, the arrival of Kanishka was reportedly foretold by the Buddha, as well as the construction of his stupa: ". . . the Buddha, pointing to a small boy making a mud tope….[said] that on that spot Kaṇiṣka would erect a tope by his name." Vinaya sutra Coin of Kanishka with the Bodhisattva Maitreya "Metrago Boudo". The same story is repeated in a Khotanese scroll found at Dunhuang , which first described how Kanishka would arrive 400 years after the death of the Buddha. The account also describes how Kanishka came to raise his stupa: "A desire thus arose in [Kanishka to build a vast stupa]….at that time the four world-regents learnt the mind of the king. So for his sake they took the form of young boys….[and] began a stūpa of mud....the boys said to [Kanishka] ‘We are making the Kaṇiṣka-stūpa.’….At that time the boys changed their form....[and] said to him, ‘Great king, by you according to the Buddha's prophecy is a Saṅghārāma to be built wholly (?) with a large stūpa and hither relics must be invited which the meritorious good beings...will bring." Chinese pilgrims to India, such as Xuanzang , who travelled there around 630 CE also relays the story: "Kaṇiṣka became sovereign of all Jambudvīpa (Indian subcontinent) but he did not believe in Karma, and he treated Buddhism with contumely. When he was hunting in the wild country a white hare appeared; the king gave a chase and the hare suddenly disappeared at [the site of the future stupa]….[when the construction of the stūpa was not going as planned] the king now lost patience and threw the [project] up….[but] the king became alarmed, as he [realised] he was evidently contending with supernatural powers, so he confessed his errors and made submission. These two topes are still in existence and were resorted to for cures by people afflicted with diseases." Transmission of Buddhism to China Main article: Silk Road transmission of Buddhism Kanishka's expansion into the Tarim Basin probably initiated the transmission of Buddhism to China. Buddhist monks from the region of Gandhara played a key role in the development and the transmission of Buddhist ideas in the direction of northern Asia from the middle of the 2nd century CE. The Kushan monk, Lokaksema (c. 178 CE), became the first translators of Mahayana Buddhist scriptures into Chinese and established a translation bureau at the Chinese capital Loyang . Central Asian and East Asian Buddhist monks appear to have maintained strong exchanges for the following centuries. Kanishka was probably succeeded by Huvishka . How and when this came about is still uncertain. The fact that there were other Kushana kings called Kanishka is just another complicating factor. Kanishka with the divinity Mozdoano. Coin of Kanishka. Coin of Kanishka found at Ahin Posh . Coin. Kanishka bronze coin. In fiction In the manga series, Berserk , the Emperor Ganishka working as Griffith's enemy in Berserk was based on King Kanishka. In the manga, he is also a profound Buddhist and adorned his empire with its respective figures and promoted it vigorously. Like his real-life counterpart, Ganishka also decorates his palace with famous Buddhist figures, but has demonised them to suit his nature. "Kanishka" is also one of the most popular songs by Argentine rock band Los Brujos , referring to the Kushan King and his wife, released in the album Fin de semana Salvaje (Wild Weekend). Frequently Asked Questions How long until my order is shipped? Depending on the volume of sales, it may take up to 5 business days for shipment of your order after the receipt of payment. How will I know when the order was shipped? After your order has shipped, you will be left positive feedback, and that date should be used as a basis of estimating an arrival date. After you shipped the order, how long will the mail take? USPS First Class mail takes about 3-5 business days to arrive in the U.S., international shipping times cannot be estimated as they vary from country to country. 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