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0028 The Thousand Buddhas : vol.1
The Thousand Buddhas : vol.1 / Page 28 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000188
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surround the Buddha's figure, which in pose and dress and in the features of the mild pensive face bears the impress of the type first evolved in Graeco-Buddhist art even more clearly than the figures of the surrounding Bodhisattvas. Of these the two enthroned are identified by M. Petrucci with Maiïju§ri on the right and Samantabhadra on the left. Above these two chief Bodhisattvas rise six-tiered umbrellas wreathed in clouds, about which float gracefully poised figures of Apsaras. The rich flowing garments, which include shawl-like stoles, and the abundant jewelled ornaments of the two are shared also by other haloed figures obviously meant for Bodhisattvas, who appear in attendance on the central Buddha or in varying supple poses occupy the fore portion of the terrace. The features of all are drawn with extreme delicacy and pleasing variety of expression, the eyes being in many cases almost straight, while the flesh is white, with shading in tints of pink.

By the side of either of the enthroned Bodhisattvas there is seen a composite group of divinities, unhaloed and five on each side, of types not ordinarily met with among the attendants in these Paradise pictures. Three figures in each group are warrior kings, recalling the Lokapâlas, or Guardians of the Four Regions (see Pls. xi.V, XLVII), by their gorgeous armour and head-dresses. The features of most of them are grotesque, and- this aspect of their appearance is enhanced by the animal figures, including a dragon, gryphon, phoenix, and peacock, which are shown rising above their shoulders or elsewhere in conjunction with them. Each group includes the figure of a demon closely resembling those which are usually met with in the cortège of Lokapâlas (see Pls. xxvi, xLV). The demon on the right raises a naked infant on his hand, just as the demon in the fragmentary painting of Plate XLVI. Immediately behind the enthroned Buddha on the left is seen a youthful personage wearing what looks like a magistrate's head-dress, while the corresponding position on the right is occupied by a warrior with three faces. Perhaps he represents Brahman and the former divinity Indra.

Before the central Buddha and in the middle of the picture is seen a large platform projecting from the main terrace and carrying a draped altar with sacred vessels. On either side of it kneel two unhaloed figures in graceful poses holding up offerings and suggesting nymphs. Projecting still further into the foreground is a smaller platform, and on it a dancer performs in rapid movement to the strains of an orchestra of eight seated musicians. The dancing figure, unmistakably that of a girl, is dressed in a billowy orange skirt tied round the hips and a close-fitting crimson jacket reaching only to the waist and surmounted by a metal-bound plastron. Her head and arms are richly adorned with jewellery. From behind the neck issues a long narrow stole which her hands wave as she dances. The figures of the musicians, four on each side, resemble those of Bodhisattvas in features and dress, but the shawl-like stoles over the shoulders are absent. Those to the left play on a harp, two lutes, and a psaltery, while those to the right play on clappers, flute, Chinese reed-organ, and pipe. The instruments, of which several have their ancient Japanese counterparts among the treasures of the Shbsbin collection (see Shôsôin Catalogue, i. Pls. 56, 6o), have been fully described in Miss Schlesinger's expert notes in Appendix K to Serindia.

At the head of each line of musicians there is seen in the background a small but very curious figure, that of a fat half-naked infant violently dancing and playing, the one to the left on a narrow-waisted drum, the one to the right apparently on castanets. Judging from other Paradise pictures we may assume that these playing infants represent newly reborn souls who in the joy of their celestial childhood have been drawn to join the happy scene of music and dancing.

A kind of gangway projects in front of the dancer's platform into the lotus lake, and at its entrance stands a Garuda with widespread wings, playing on cymbals. From the lake rise trees and purple or scarlet lotus buds and flowers, the latter supporting souls reborn. Two of these, at the extreme right and left, are sitting upright as fully developed Bodhisattvas, but with a languid air of newly awakened consciousness. Two others, faintly visible in the foreground, are represented as naked infants just springing to life or still curled up in sleep. A rock on the left at the bottom edge of the lake is occupied by a crane ; its pendant on the right, a peacock, falls outside the reproduction in Plate Ii.