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0342 Sand-Buried Ruins of Khotan : vol.1
Sand-Buried Ruins of Khotan : vol.1 / Page 342 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000234
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fully packed away in one of my mule-trunks, amidst cotton wool and plenty of soft country paper I had provided myself with at Khotan, the little statue accomplished its long journey to London far better than I had expected.

At the foot of the principal base and leaning against it were found five painted panels of wood, all oblong, but of varying sizes. The largest measures 11 in. in length, with a height of 5i in., and has a thickness of about a quarter of an inch. Owing to their position near the ground the wood of these panels and also the thin layer of water-colour with which they are painted has suffered much, evidently through damp. For the same reason the removal of the crust of sand and siliceous matter which adheres to the surface proved a very delicate task. But even the imperfect cleaning I could attempt at the time sufficed to show that these little paintings represent personages of Buddhist mythology or scenes bearing on Buddhist worship and legends. On one of them two figures, evidently meant for Bodhisattvas, can be seen seated on lotus-flowers, with coloured vesica and halo behind them. In another I could, notwithstanding the much-faded outlines, recognise the quaint features of that popular figure of the Indian pantheon, the elephant-headed god of learning, Ganesha. A third panel exhibits the figure of a dancing-woman, drawn in full movement and with remarkable freedom. From the head, which is thrown back, there flows downwards a quantity of black tresses, while the left hand holds the loop of a sash or veil poised in graceful curve over the head.

These painted tablets, like all the others subsequently discovered at the bases of sacred images in ruined temples of Dandan-Uiliq, were undoubtedly, still in the same position in which they had originally been deposited as the votive offerings of pious worshippers. And curiously enough, as if to show the care which must have been taken by the last attendants of the little shrine to keep the sacred objects clear of the invading dust and sand,,I discovered several ancient brooms both near the principal base and in other parts of the cella (reproduced p. 378) . They were about 16 in. long