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0061 The Thousand Buddhas : vol.1
The Thousand Buddhas : vol.1 / Page 61 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000188
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streamered pavilion. This and the building behind display very clearly characteristic features of Chinese architecture such as the tiled roofs, the recurving roof-tree ends, the confronting bird heads on the roof ridge, &c. On the right of the scene we see a subsidiary Buddha, standing with a Bodhisattva by his side, as in the corresponding groups of other Paradise paintings.84

The scenes below belong to a different series which extended along the bottom of the picture. They show in the left corner the Death of the Wicked. He lies stretched out on a couch placed in a verandah with his wife watching him, while two shock-headed demons strangle him with scarlet ropes. Below is seen on a cloud, as a vision, the boiling cauldron into which his body is being flung by one of the ox-headed gaolers of hell, who stands by carrying a trident-shaped pitchfork.

The adjoining scene depicts the Sickness of the Wicked. He sits up, supported by a woman, on the bed laid within a porch or verandah. In the foreground a younger woman with a lute and a man carrying a leaf-shaped red object and stooping advance towards what seems a mat with offerings laid on the ground. They are small black dishes with red contents (burning incense ?), clouds of white smoke drifting from some of them.

The third scene of this series is incomplete and having lost its inscription cannot be identified. It shows a man in purple coat and tailed cap running to the back of the scene between a verandahed structure and a shrine built of grey tiles, with his hands brandishing a stick over his head. In front a man, similarly dressed and perhaps meant to be the same person, is seen with bared arms and body violently belabouring another, in purple coat and with the blue close-cropped hair of a monk, who kneels on the ground and holds his hand to his head.

Of the fragments of the main picture reproduced on the right the upper one shows us a group of musicians, seated on a small evidently carpeted platform and facing towards a dancer (now lost) as usually seen in the large Paradise pictures. Of the instruments played a psaltery, harp, lute, and two flutes of different kinds are still recognizable. It is of interest to note that the carpet with a Chinese floral pattern in the centre combines a medallion border of unmistakably ' Sassanian ' design.65 The Bodhisattva figure on the left belongs to the group of a standing subsidiary Buddha already mentioned.

The fragment reproduced below is from the top left corner of the picture. There, against a deep blue sky sprinkled with gilded stars and above the steeply curved indigo roof of a celestial mansion, we see a flaming jewel on a lotus pedestal ; white streamers flying from a central pavilion ; small drums floating in air to symbolize heavenly music, and in the middle Samantabhadra seated on his white elephant and attended by two Bodhisattvas. The drums, painted dark brown and tied with red ribbons, are of interest on account of their different shapes. Whether cylindrical or narrow-waisted, they have strings stretched outside for the production of different notes by pressure under the arm. One has also a projecting staff with cross-hammer.



THIS Plate reproduces the only painting (Ch. lii. ooi, scale three-fourths) among those brought away from the walled-up chapel which is entirely Tibetan in style. The special interest it derives from this fact is further increased by the probability of its being ' the oldest of its kind now in existence, or at least one of the oldest '. Mr. Binyon in his Introduction 66 has already referred to the Tibetan supremacy established in the Tun-huang region from

64 See above, Plates I, u.

65 We meet with exactly corresponding examples of the combination of Chinese and ' Sassanian ' textile motifs

in certain printed silks from the ' Thousand Buddhas ' ; see Serindia, p. 911, Plates cxiii, cxrv.

66 See above, p. 9.