The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge University/Department of Coins And Medals

The statue of four addorsed lions from the Ashokan Pillar in Sarnath has been adopted as the national emblem of the Republic of India and appears on Indian rupee coins and banknotes. The lions’ energy and well-defined musculature reflect the naturalism of ancient Greek sculpture, while the humped-back bull and elephant carved on the column’s plinth are quintessentially Indian—a blending of artistic traditions first occurring during the reign of Emperor Ashoka 2,300 years ago.