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0070 The Thousand Buddhas : vol.1
The Thousand Buddhas : vol.1 / Page 70 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000188
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grotesque features. The right hands carry sword and arrow, and the left hands a trident and bow ; above his crown is seen a horse's head.

With the comparative stiffness of the figures contrasts the freedom of the whirling mass of cloud upon which the whole group is shown sweeping past as in a vision. The colouring is strong, yet harmonious, and the workmanship careful.

The picture below (Ch. lvii. ooz), which is in excellent preservation and still retained its original Kakemono mounting of brown silk, is a noble composition strikingly different in style and entirely Chinese in feeling. It shows the figure of Avalokitesvara, as Guide of Souls, drawn with much dignity and grace, and behind him an attendant soul represented on a smaller scale in the guise of a Chinese woman.

The figure of Avalokitesvara, who turns head and gaze backwards over the left shoulder, is in physical features and dress a fine specimen of the ` Chinese ' Bodhisattva type already repeatedly noticed. In his right hand he carries a smoking censer, in his left a curving lotus spray and a waving white banner with triangular top and streamers, the whole exactly alike in shape to the silk banners brought away from Chien-fo-tung. In the dress of soft and harmoniously blended colours the elaborate rosettes of the borders may be noted as manifestly reproducing contemporary textile patterns.

The figure of the woman behind, with her head bowed and hands muffled in wide sleeves at her breast, well expresses devout reliance on the divine guide. Her attire, by the brilliant colouring of the robes and the absence of the elaborate metal head-dress, stands out in marked contrast to the costume familiar from the donor figures of our tenth-century paintings. The purple cloud which carries both figures sweeps up behind them to the top of the picture. There a Chinese mansion resting on conventional cloud scrolls represents the Paradise to which Avalokitesvara leads his worshippers.

By the evidence of the dress and coiffure of the Bodhisattva's attendant, which seem to belong to post-Tang times, the painting may be classed amongst the latest of the deposit. But what for our appreciation of this beautiful picture must matter far more than this chronological difference is the fact that the style of its design and its refined execution give full and exclusive expression just to those qualities which are characteristic of Chinese pictorial art at its best. As Mr. Binyon, when comparing this picture with another presentation of Avalokitesvara, the one reproduced in our Plate xLii, has pregnantly put it, ` we have [here] a sense of suavity and flexile movement. Flowers seem really to be floating down the air, and the cloud on which the votaress follows the Bodhisattva coils up with a wavering motion. We feel the presence of the Chinese genius, with its instinct for living movement, and its love of sinuous line, and its reticent spacing.' 85



THE small picture (Ch. lxi. oog) reproduced here on half-scale is remarkable for its peculiar colour scheme and for its archaic appearance in composition and drawing. It represents Ksitigarbha in his combined character as Patron of Travellers, Regent of Hell, and Lord of the Six Worlds of Desire. We have already above, when dealing with the paintings reproduced in Plate xxv, had occasion to indicate briefly the several functions which have made this Bodhisattva one of the most popular figures in the Buddhist Pantheon of the Far East.86 Our observations here may, therefore, be restricted to particular features of his presentation.

The picture is painted on indigo blue silk which, though much broken, especially on the edges, yet retains the strong colours of the painting in great freshness. Ksitigarbha

85 Cf. Serindia, Appendix E, p. 1429.   86 See above, p. 37 sq.