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0043 The Thousand Buddhas : vol.1
The Thousand Buddhas : vol.1 / Page 43 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000188
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divinity which the original images were intended to represent. For others definite clues have yet to be searched for.

The figure in the top corner on the left reproduces an image of Gautama Bodhisattva, seated in the famous scene of Mara's attack immediately preceding the Illumination. This is shown by the characteristic pose of the hand touching the rocky seat (bhûmisparga-mudrâ) and by the triple monster head forming a crown over the Bodhisattva's head and symbolizing the demon army of Mara. It was in that pose that the miraculous image at the sacred site of Bôdh-Gayà, described at length by the great Chinese pilgrim Hsüan-tsang and still traceable in numberless replicas, presented gakyamuni at the moment of Enlightenment. The identification of our figure with this far-famed image is confirmed by the Chinese inscription placed against it which describes it as a statue in the kingdom of Magadha. In the figure now seen in the top right-hand corner we meet again with a Bodhisattva seated in the bhûmisparla-mudrei. His robe is like that of a Buddha and red. Two white crescents are shown within the nimbus, which, like the vesica, is flame-edged. Here, too, a fortunate chance has preserved the accompanying inscription from effacement. According to M. Petrucci it mentions as the original a silver image preserved in the kingdom of Kapi§a, which corresponds to the region of the present Kabuli'

Iconographic indications define four more of the images represented. The figure in the middle of the topmost row shows the statue of a Buddha standing with the right hand raised in the pose of ` Protection ' and surrounded by an elliptical vesica which is filled with rows of small Buddhas standing in the same pose and visible from the breast upwards. The whole agrees in all details, down to the folds of the drapery, with two colossal stucco relievo statues excavated by me in 1901 on the southern corner walls of the great Rawak Vihara of Khotan32 Of these and similar representations on a much smaller scale in Gandhara relievos M. Foucher has proved that they are meant to exhibit~akyamuni in the act of performing the Great Miracle of ravastï33 In another standing figure, the one on the right of the middle row, the introduction of a pair of gazelles or deer into the ogee top of the vesica proves that an image representing Aakyamuni in the Deer Park of Benares, the scene of the First Sermon, is intended. The richly adorned standing figure of a Bodhisattva in the bottom row, holding the characteristic emblems of the lotus and flask, is certainly an Avalokitesvara, and the presence by his side of various small attendant figures may yet help to the exact identification of the image intended.

Special iconographic interest attaches to the standing Buddha figure in the right-hand bottom corner of the Plate. Its hieratic pose of peculiar stiffness, the treatment of the drapery and what remains of the background of speckled rocks, leave no doubt as to the identity of the figure with the image of akyamuni on the Vulture Peak, which is represented in striking similarity also by the fine painting of Plate mil previously discussed and by the embroidery picture of Plate xxxiv. The vulture shown in the former makes it quite certain that the background of all three paintings represents the famous rocky hill near Rajagrha or Rajgir in Bihar, where ancient tradition localized various episodes of gakyamuni's later life. There is no inscription to tell us where the Indian image which all three representations were intended to reproduce was assumed to be. But the absolute identity of the pose, and the extraordinarily close resemblance of all details in the treatment of drapery, hair, dress, &c., prove all three to be replicas from the same model. That this was a sculpture in the Graeco-Buddhist style is obvious at a glance.

The rigid adherence in details to a common original model which is proved in this particular case supports confidence in the general fidelity with which the other figures, too, in our painting may be assumed to reproduce the original images represented. A close parallel is furnished by the miniatures in certain Nepalese manuscripts of the eleventh

31 Cf. Petrucci, Annales du Musée Guimet, xli. p. 122. The figure at the first opening of the picture at the British Museum was found as a detached fragment. To its left upper edge there adhered the inscribed cartouche subsequently, on mounting, inserted in the

blank space between the two standing figures at the bottom ; cf. Serindia, p. 1025 sq.

32 See Ancient Khotan, i. 493, Figs. 62-4.

33 Cf. Foucher, Beginnings of Buddhist Art, p. 172.