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0441 Innermost Asia : vol.2
Innermost Asia : vol.2 / Page 441 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000187
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latter's iconographic significance. The Persian divinity of the Dandân-oilik panel is shown with four arms. Of these the lower right one rests clenched on the thigh ; the lower left raised to the

breast holds an object which I took for a Vajra, but which may well be a cup, as suggested by Professor von Le Coq.' The spear-head upraised in the left upper hand is quite clear. But the object at the top of a long curving shape held by the right upper hand, also upraised, is for the most part effaced, and the interpretation of it previously offered as a flower was purely conjectural. Comparison with the mural painting of the Koh-i-Khwâja site permits us now to recognize here a mace-head, an object far more in keeping with the figure's martial look. This interpretation is distinctly confirmed by the curved support which uniformly in both painted panel and fresco is shown as carrying that object.

If we are thus led to recognize a deified representation of Rustam, the national hero of the Iranian epos, on one side of the Dandân-oilik panel, some significance may reasonably be looked for also in the figure painted on the other side of that panel. We see there a three-headed haloed

figure, with blue flesh, seated on a decorated cushion and wearing besides an abundance of jewellery

on neck, arms, &c., a tiger skin round the waist. The emblems carried in this divinity's four hands, two couchant bulls shown below, and a few other details, seem as if borrowed from a Brahmanic

Siva or his Buddhistic counterpart.8 But what primarily calls for our attention here is that we meet

a similar juxtaposition of a three-headed divine figure with the deified Rustam also in the Sistân mural painting. I am unable to suggest any confident interpretation of this figure in either picture.

If it has to be sought, as seems likely, in the field of Iranian legend, I must leave the search to others

better equipped for the task and having access to the requisite materials. So much, however, may be usefully pointed out here : the same four-armed Trimûrti figure is found on two more painted

panels from a Buddhist shrine of Dandân-oilik,9 and one of these, D. x. 5, shows on its reverse the distinctly Persian figure of a horseman as the subject of a legendary scene which is represented elsewhere also, but has not yet been explained.10 Are we, perhaps, here, too, in presence of an import of Central-Asian Buddhist iconography derived from Iranian lore ? 11

It is necessary to pay due regard to the nexus with Buddhist iconography now indicated in order to appreciate correctly the interest presented by other remains of paintings, unfortunately

badly damaged, disclosed by further examination of the walls near the passage Gha. i. When the later wall (a) hiding the painted friezes above described had been removed, an older painted surface about 15 inches farther in was disclosed in the western corner, through a broken portion of this frescoed wall (ß). After all that remained of those friezes had been removed and treated, it became possible to widen this opening and to lay bare this older wall (y). Its painted surface, however, was found to extend only about 2 feet to the right of the corner, the face of this wall being completely broken beyond, as seen in Fig. 467. The sketch in Pl. 54 will explain the succession of walls. On the small surviving portion of the facing of this earliest wall y there was painted a robed figure, standing and nearly life-size, which in pose and dress distinctly had the typical appearance of a Bodhisattva, as made familiar by Central-Asian Buddhist sculptures and frescoes.

The colours, where not effaced, had become faint, and consequently the photograph in Fig. 467

Three-headed figure in panel

D. vII. 6.

Other wall- paintings in Gha. i.

7 See von Le Coq, Bilderatlas, p. 5o, note on Fig. 4o reproduced from Ancient Khotan, Pl. LX.

8 Cf. Ancient Khotan, i. p. 299.

9 For D. x. 5, 8, cf. Ancient Khotan, i. pp. 30o sq. ; ii. Pl. LXII.

10 See ibid., i. pp. 248, 298 ; ii. Pl. III, LIX (D. vu. 5) ; Serindia, i. p. 18o (Kha. i. E. 0034).

11 In this connexion brief reference ought to be made to


the view expressed by Professor T. Nöldeke in his admirable analysis of the Persian National epos (Grundriss d. iran. Phil., ii. p. 139) that the figures of Rustam and his father Zal did not originally belong to the legendary cycle which it treats. The question is justly raised there as to whether they may not possibly have been first introduced by the Saka conquerors of Sistan from their earlier Central-Asian seats.