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0444 Innermost Asia : vol.2
Innermost Asia : vol.2 / Page 444 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000187
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Wall-painting of classical style.


Here, however, for some unexplained reason there survived remains of an interesting composition. At a height of about 3 feet from the original floor two figures were shown facing each other and apparently seated on the ground (?). Both figures were preserved more or less from the head to above the waist. That on the right had the left leg outstretched. The left arm was raised to about the height of the neck with the hand grasping some indistinct object. The right arm was extended along one of the legs resting on the ground, but had been destroyed for the most part by a large crack in the plaster, probably caused by white ants and running diagonally across from the frieze above the head. The latter, represented in profile and about 5" long, showed pure classical features. Like the rest of the figure it was painted in terra-cotta and in silhouette only, the whole curiously recalling the treatment of figures on Greek vases. The figure opposite had suffered even more ; but its head remained and enough of the bust and arms to show that its attitude corresponded closely to that of the figure on the right. The whole at first sight suggested a pair of men engaged in some game. The background had been badly eaten by white ants and showed no distinguishable features. Evidently the terra-cotta colour, being less palatable to those destructive insects, had been instrumental in saving the figures.

[Since the above account based on what I could see at the time in the dim light of the corridor was written, Mr. Andrews has kindly supplied me with the following description of the painting as now set up at New Delhi and carefully examined by him. To his artist hand is due the drawing in Pl. 54 which shows the wall-painting in its present fragmentary condition. ' The plaster surface painted in tempera shows two youthful male figures nude to the waist, facing each other. White drapery at the waist of each suggests a loin-cloth. The figure to L., almost in profile, with a slight turn of the shoulders towards the left, leans forward to the right, both arms fully extended, the hands at waist level and grasping a spear or cord extended horizontally across the picture. The head, almost entirely missing, seems to have been in profile and the gaze directed across to the second figure. Portion of a white taenia is visible at the back of the head.

' The figure to R. has the head better preserved and presents a perfectly Greek profile and youthful wide-open eye. Round the head is bound a white taenia. The shoulders are swung round to right by the action of the L. pr. arm, which is thrown back and flexed so that the hand is brought up to shoulder level and grasps a vertical rod or spear. The R. pr. arm is extended to left, the hand on level of waist. The pose is just that of a fencer on guard. In fact the group suggests attack and defence.

' The drawing of the figures is quite naturalistic and essentially Hellenistic. The curve of the back and the line of chest and abdomen of the figure to left are finely shown. Almost all detail is lost, so that the figures are now practically in silhouette. The background to the figures is now discoloured white, with a band of upright foliage suggestive of roughly drawn acanthus leaves running partly behind and above the heads. Above this again is a horizontal wreath of leaves and flowers with entwining ribbon band at regular intervals.]

The plaster surface was here finer and harder than on the walls of Gha. i and permitted the panels with the above scene to be cut out and removed in spite of all the damage suffered. The mud plaster had been applied in two successive layers, each about ii-" thick. By some chance there also survived above this composition a small portion of the decorative frieze which appears to have once extended along a considerable part of the outer wall of the corridor. At the top of the wall, which rose about 81 feet above the floor, extended a brick course projecting 2" and carrying the vault. Below this ran a round moulding, 3i" high, painted dark red, and from this downwards followed a frieze, 28" wide and made up of different coloured bands, as indicated in the sketch. The widest of these bands contained a well-designed scroll ornament resembling a wreath tied with


Decorative frieze.