Ancient Buddhist temple step auctioned for record
London: A 1,000-year-old Buddhist carved Indian-style temple step, found in the garden of a home in England, has fetched a whopping 553,250 pounds at an auction here.
The ancient granite temple step, which till now adorned the residence of Mike and Bronwyn Hickmott in Devon, had been valued between 20,000 and 30,000 pounds as part of the `Indian and Islamic Sale` of the international auction house Bonhams.
"We are overwhelmed with the price achieved. It goes beyond all our expectations," said Bronwyn Hickmott, whose parents had discovered the relic in their garden left by a tea planter who returned to Britain from Sri Lanka in the 1950s.
There were at least eight telephone bidders and three in the saleroom here yesterday fighting it out for the rare item.
"We had been turned away by other international auction houses as well as television antiques shows. Everyone pooh-poohed our belief that the stone was special," Hickmott said.
"It was only Bonhams` determination to research the stone that has led to this happy result. We are thrilled," she added.
The pre-Hindu granite step, Sandakada pahana, is similar to those found in the ancient city of Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka.
It features a curved procession of animals including lions, horses, elephants, birds and cows.
The massively heavy step is one of only six examples known to date from this period, making this latest discovery the seventh. The temple step is a feature unique to Sinhalese architecture in Sri Lanka.
Also up for sale during the auction here were works by three of India`s best-known painters, all of which fetched record prices.
While Tyeb Mehta`s Untitled oil-on-canvas signed and dated 1978 went for 505,250 pounds, M F Husain`s 1970 oil-on-canvas sold for 205,250 pounds and Syed Haider Raza`s acrylic-on-canvas fetched 157,250 pounds.
The sale made a total of 3.6 million pounds on the back of a new world record for an Iznnik bottle from the Ottoman Empire.
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