National Institute of Informatics - Digital Silk Road Project
Digital Archive of Toyo Bunko Rare Books

> > > >
Color New!IIIF Color HighRes Gray HighRes PDF   Japanese English
0079 The Thousand Buddhas : vol.1
The Thousand Buddhas : vol.1 / Page 79 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

New!Citation Information

doi: 10.20676/00000188
Citation Format: Chicago | APA | Harvard | IEEE

OCR Text



on the black shoes. The yellowish-brown colour of this metal-work, suggestive of bronze, is applied also to the solid metal tiara, with wing ornaments and high crown, which forms the head-dress.

Though the drawing is careful and the colours clear and fresh, much is lost in general effect through excessive concentration on detail and ornament. In the want of space and free line and in the resulting lack of spontaneity we are made to feel, as it were, the influence of non-Chinese models.



THIS fine fragment of a large silk painting (Ch. 0098), reduced here to three-fourths of the original, shows the head and upper part of the body of a figure demonic in look and of violent pose. No definite identification seems at present possible. If the trident-like weapon lifted up in the left hand might suggest a Lokapâla, there are to be noted against this the flames streaming back from the head and the total absence of armour. Again, if the ferocious look and pose would make us think of a Vajrapâni Dharmapâla, other difficulties arise from the unusual weapon, the fiery hair, and the want of exaggerated muscles. So it will be best to leave this fine figure unnamed and to rest content with an appreciation of its artistic merit.

The head, well preserved on the whole, shows a face demonic in features and convulsed with rage. It is painted dark grey with red lips and black hair. The eyes are distended and glaring in fury, the eyebrows contracted, and the forehead bowed with wrinkles. The widely grinning mouth shows the tongue and both rows of teeth. Excessively high cheekbones and nose, bushy eyebrows, a moustache sweeping fiercely upwards, and stiff spreading beard and whiskers add their quota to the terrifying appearance of the head. The hair on the forehead passes black under a jewelled tiara ; but what streams up from the whole head is a cone of red flame.

From the rest of the fragment all paint is lost. The outline drawing, however, remains of a body vigorous and muscular. But for jewelled chains, necklace, &c., it is nude to the hip-belt, over which appears pulled the edge of a skirt-like garment. A stole is gathered over the right upper arm, and the right hand is held before the breast, with fingers stiffly upturned and palm downwards. The left arm is lost, but the hand appears above grasping the staff of a weapon with barbed points.

The whole figure is drawn with admirable verve and freedom. Fragmentary as it is, it allows us to surmise what we have lost here of a work of true Chinese genius—and at the same time to realize what we owe to the safe hiding-place the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas have provided for so many other relics of art.