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0577 Innermost Asia : vol.1
Innermost Asia : vol.1 / Page 577 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000187
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of the great deposit and partly through subsequent exposure. These plentiful examples of block illustration in Sung times with their wealth of ornamental details are of obvious importance for the history of wood-engraving as practised in the north-western marches of the 'Empire. At the same time they show the development which local Buddhist art underwent subsequently to the latest phase that we find represented among the corresponding relics from the ` Thousand Buddhas' of Tun-huang.

   Of large compositions which in a more or less fragmentary condition are to be found among   

these block prints from K.K. II, I may specially mention the pieces K.K. II. 0229. a and 0239. c pBlockicturs and

(Pl. LXIV) showing a scene, as yet unidentified, in which figures a large serpent ; the representa- designs.

tion of a Buddhist paradise in 0233. b, 0280. a, 0290. a (PI. LXII) ; the series of what seem to be

Jâtaka scenes in 0284. a (Pl. LXIII) ; the ` Mandala ' picture, 0238. a (P1. LXII). But far more

numerous are the blocks showing groups of Buddhas or Bodhisattvas, inserted in the text after

the fashion of miniatures in devotional manuscripts of mediaeval Europe (Pls. LXIII, LXV).. Many

of the decorative designs used for framing the block-printed columns of Hsi-hsia characters or for

separating individual figures, &c., are elegant, even if the engraving is coarse. The definite

indication of Tibetan influence in some of the block prints fully accords with evidence supplied by

certain Chien-fo-tung paintings of the same influence affecting Buddhist art as it prevailed in this

border region centuries earlier.

Among the pen-and-ink drawings of which fragments were also recovered, though in a lesser Pen-and-ink

number, we find some rapidly executed but distinctly spirited figure sketches in purely Chinese drawings.

style, such as K.K. ii. 0247. a, e ; 0275. e, i ; 0313. a, d, g (Pl. LVIII—LXI). Of special interest as

specimens of Chinese landscape composition in Sung times are rough sketches such as the rocky

gorge K.K. II. 0313. b (PI. LXI) ; groups of trees growing amidst rocks, 0275. h. With these must

be grouped also such sketches for landscapes as seen in K.K. II. 0313. c (Pl. LX). Just as at the

` Thousand Buddhas ' of Tun-huang, so here we meet with drawings like K.K. II. 077 ; 0275.

e, f (Pl. LX), which have been pricked for use as pounces, while in 0276. bbb we have the fragment

of a stencil for a decorative pattern cut through paper bearing Hsi-hsia writing. These pictorial

remains, in their tantalizingly fragmentary state, can only increase our hope that the wealth of far

better preserved pictures which reached the Asiatic Museum of the Russian Academy of Sciences

from this great deposit may yet be made accessible to us through an adequate publication.

I may finally refer to the numerous specimens of silk fabrics. They include, besides different Silk fabrics.

coloured pieces of plain silk, K.K. II. 02, 4-7,012, &c., which probably belonged either to flags or

votive offerings, a series of printed silks, produced by the `resist' process, 016,19,32-4 (Pl. LXXXVI,

LXXXVII), or by blocks, 0J4. Damasks are represented in 015,3o, 37, 50, 53. Figured polychrome

silk is found on the wallet 018 (Pl. LXXXIII), while the silk appliqué band, 067, with its fine dragon

design work in gilded silk, might well have formed part of a manuscript cover resembling that

found at Chien-fo-tung." A small piece of fine silk tapestry, 036, completes a range of textile

remains that may offer interesting material for comparison with the corresponding fabrics from the

Chien-fo-tung hoard.»

After this synopsis of the remains yielded by our search of the ` waste ' left behind by the Chrono-

Russian explorers, a few words may not be out of place concerning the period from which this logical

limits of

remarkable deposit is likely to date. It is evident that a sure conclusion could be based only upon deposit.

the far more abundant and better-preserved materials in the keeping of the Asiatic Museum at Petrograd. But if we take into account the general character of the relics, whether texts or artistic objects, together with the record to be discussed below of the taking of ` Etzina ' by the Mongols

11 Cf. Serindia, ii. pp. 1049 sq. ; iv. Pl. CVI, CXI.   12 See ibid., ii. pp. 897 sqq.