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0471 Innermost Asia : vol.1
Innermost Asia : vol.1 / Page 471 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000187
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furnished by him it appears that among the newly acquired rolls there are some dating as far back as the fifth and sixth centuries A. D.19a

Whether the contents of the two big boxes of manuscripts which Wang Tao-shih kept in his store-room really represented the whole of the reserve he had managed to retain may well be considered doubtful. But it is certain that the visits of Professor Pelliot and Mr. Tachibana following upon mine, besides inquiries on the part of learned Chinese antiquaries, had impressed him with the spreading archaeological fame of the cave-shrines and had thus also led him to pay some attention to other old things ' of the site. Of this I found evidence in a number of relievo plaques in stucco, manifestly old, which, as the self-appointed guardian of the site, he had removed and taken into his store-room, manifestly with a view to propitiating future visitors from a distance. When he had duly `cashed' the donation with which I had acquired his nest-egg' of manuscripts, he presented to me, as a mark of his cordial feelings, the miscellaneous collection of relief plaques which are illustrated

in Plate XLIX and described in the List below. No information could be obtained about their exact provenance ; the priest stated that he had found them lying loose in the sand in one of the

cave-shrines that he had cleared since my previous visit. But it seemed more probable that they

had been removed by him from decorative stucco friezes such as I remembered seeing on the walls

of one of the large caves belonging to the topmost row near the centre of the site (Fig. 226).

One type of these plaques, represented by Ch. 015-19, 21, 29-30 (Pl. XLIX), shows the figure Types of


of a Buddha seated in meditation. It is roughly modelled and painted in the conventional style figures.

that is common to the Buddha figures in the painted diapers decorating the walls of so many of the Chien-fo-tung shrines. Other types agree in showing figures seated within trefoil arches, but the plaques differ in sizes and subjects. In Ch. 025, 31-3 (Pl. XLIX) we see a Buddha or Bodhisattva seated with eyes closed and the head covered by the drawn-up robe. Ch. 023-4, 26, 28 (Pl. XLIX) show the figure of a shaven monk, seated in European fashion and holding an open manuscript roll on his knees. In Ch. 020, 22, 27 (Pl. XLIX) a fat monkish figure, with front of body exposed, sits holding a rosary in the right hand, &c. For these types and some minor variations moulds have undoubtedly been used, while the details of colouring differ. The general character of the modelling suggests an origin later than Tang times.

The same may be safely assumed of the several series of small reliefs, Ch. 02-3, 04-13, 014 (Pl. XLIX), circular or pear-shaped and only about two inches wide. They are made from moulds in unfired clay and show a Buddha seated in dhydnamudrd with Stûpas by his side or behind. Bràhmi characters appear on all these little reliefs. In type they closely recall those found by me in numbers in one of the shrines of the ` Ten Thousand Buddhas ' above. An-hsi.20 Judging from their shape they had obviously been deposited as votive offerings, just like those I had occasion to mention above in connexion with the Buddhist shrine traced on Mazdr-tâgh.21

Such time as these transactions left me at the site before my return to the Limes was used Pictorial

for renewed visits to the most notable of its hundreds of cave-shrines. There was much satisfac- decoration

of shrines.

tion in the knowledge that Professor Pelliot during his several months' stay at Chien-fo-tung had been able to do justice to the great artistic and archaeological interest of its wealth of fine wall-paintings and sculptural remains, not only by expert study on the spot but also by securing a complete series of photographs with the help of a skilful professional assistant. Assured of the approaching publication of these exhaustive materials,22 I could restrict such cursory observations as time allowed me to make to points where the brief descriptive notes taken on my first visit of the pictorial decoration of the shrines needed supplementing.

12a For reproductions of specimens, see Pl. CXXVIII,   21 See above, pp. 92 sqq.

CXXIx.   22 See now Pelliot, Les grottes de Touen-houang, i—vi,

20 Cf. Serindia, iii. p. 1112 ; iv. Pl. CXXXIX.   1920-4,

Relievo plaques presented by Wang Tao-shih.

Small votive reliefs.