The Great Departure - 100 - 300 CE Gandhara (Pakistan) carved in Phyllite
The story of the Siddartha, the historical Buddha is a fascinating one.  Pictured above is a carving at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco titled, "The Great Departure".  It was predicted that Prince Siddartha would either become a great king, or if he left the palace, a great religious leader.  His parents tried to shield him from experiencing the real world of both joys and sorrows, by preventing him from seeing anything cruel or sad.  They failed and Siddartha left the palace and went on to become a great religious leader and the founder of Buddhism. 

This scene shows Siddartha leaving the palace without his parents' knowledge.  The gods  help his escape by lifting up the hoofs of his horse so the sound would not alert others of his departure. This image of the "Great Departure" is one of the earliest depictions of this story.  

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