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0040 The Thousand Buddhas : vol.1
The Thousand Buddhas : vol.1 / Page 40 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000188
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In the scene below we see the prince riding with bent head from the same palace gateway. Here it is shown on the right, and its interior timber frame clearly displayed. The courtier by his side, attired as above, approaches with compassionate expression the group on the left. Here under a tree is seen sitting upon the ground the sick man, supported by a friend in a red dress, while another in green offers him drink in a bowl. The emaciation of his body and of his arms spread upon his knees is shown with realistic skill.

In the companion banner on the right (Ch. xlix. oo6) the lower scene, composed in exactly the same style, represents Prince Gautama as a child discoursing on his anterior lives to civil and military officers, as the accompanying inscription tells us. The future Buddha sits on a verandah of the palace, holding out his arms evidently in the act of reciting his Jâtaka tales. In front of him kneels a man, in black cap and orange belted coat, holding a manuscript roll. On the ground below stands a bearded personage wearing the dress of a civilian dignitary ; he also carries a roll in his hands, which are covered by the wide sleeves of his robe. Two persons stand behind the prince outside the verandah. One in the dress of an attendant carries in his arms a round receptacle filled with small objects no longer recognizable. The other, wearing a tall round black cap, a brown mantle, and white under-robe, grasps with his right hand what from the gesture seems to be the hilt of a sword, and may hence be taken as representing the military element in the royal entourage.

The seated figure of Buddha seen in the upper panel illustrates what has been said above about the close adherence to the models derived from Gandhâra art in the delineation of divine figures which stand outside Gautama's life-story before his attainment of Buddhahood. This representation of the Buddha in our banner reflects Indian hieratic tradition in every detail. He is shown seated on a large scarlet lotus, with the left hand raised in the attitude of ' protection ' (abhaya-mudrâ).23 A crimson under-robe, with light blue lining, covers legs and right shoulder, while a brown mantle lined with light green is thrown over the bare left. The finely drawn face, with arched black brows and level eyes, shows no trace of Chinese influence. Throughout the drawing is firm and clear in the smallest details and the workmanship very delicate.

The banner reproduced in the middle (Ch. 0071) has survived only in badly broken fragments, but even thus claims attention for several qualities. Though of the topmost scene little else remains but the figure of the seated Prince Gautama, it can, on the strength of other closely corresponding scenes, be safely recognized as representing the farewell in the forest from his horse Kanthaka and its groom Chandaka,26 after the prince's flight from his father's palace. Lower down we are shown in an excellently composed scene the pursuit of the mounted messengers sent by his father Suddhodana to search after him in the forest. The group of five horsemen with heads turned towards each other as if baffled as to the track to follow are plunging behind a forested hill to the left. The drawing of men and horses is very spirited and the movement of both vividly expressed.

In the bottom scene we may recognize with some probability a representation of the First Sermon in the Deer Park of Benares. Sdkyamuni, in Buddha robes, with halo and vesica and gilded flesh, is seated on a lotus upon a chased throne. Over him hangs a draped canopy supported by a pair of red-flowering star-leaved trees just as Paradise pictures show them. Of three monks standing behind the throne the shaven heads are visible. In front kneel the audience—three men with high topknots and gay party-coloured jackets and long under-robes. With their faces raised towards the Enlightened One they seem to listen intently to his teaching. Throughout the colouring is ornate and carefully applied in illuminating style.

25 This is against the fixed iconographic convention of Indian tradition which shows the right hand raised and the right shoulder uncovered by the under-robe. The explanation may be sought for in the fact that in the case of banners both sides of the silk gauze had to be painted. Here and in the Buddha of the banner in the middle of

the Plate we have obviously cases of a mistake made by the artist as to which side was to be treated as the one intended for contemplation and properly finished.

26 Cf. Serindia, p. 858, and the reproduction of the banner, Ch. lv. 0012, Pl. Lxxv.