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0308 Ancient Khotan : vol.1
Ancient Khotan : vol.1 / Page 308 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000182
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Cognizance under feet of image.

Representation of scale armour.


arm, standing over the body of a prostrate foe. The figure, which measured a little over three feet from the heel to below the arm-pit, is clad in a coat of mail reaching below the knees and elaborately decorated. The small plates or scales which form the mail are shown above the waist overlapping each other in vertical rows, while below it their arrangement is horizontal and their shape different. Here the double rivets (or lacing) joining one plate above . the other are accurately indicated. The gay colours of the successive rows of plates, alternately red-blue and red-green, were remarkably well preserved, and no less so all details of the jewelled ornaments which are shown along the front and the lower edge of the coat and on the girdle around the waist. From the lower edge of the coat of mail rich kilting depends. The right arm seems to have been dressed in a close-fitting sleeve, but most of the surface-coating of the friable stucco had peeled off, and the colouring could no longer be distinguished. The hand resting on the waist holds a small object which has also become indistinct through abrasion but which, as seen in the photograph, seems to suggest a money-bag.

The feet seem to be clad in wide top-boots of soft leather, just like the ` Charuks ' still worn throughout Eastern Turkestan, and originally coloured a light reddish brown. They are placed over the contorted body manifestly of a demon shown in low relief. The features of the latter's heàd, which alone is raised somewhat from the ground, with eyes wide open and the upper teeth displayed, express terror. The body appears to have been painted dark blue, but owing to the low position of this relief the stucco retained little of the original colouring. On the demon's right arm an armlet and bracelet can still be distinguished. The representation of the thick hair by elaborately worked spiral tufts closely recalls the distinctly Indian treatment of the hair which is frequently met with in Buddha figures of later Gandhara style, and which has remained the orthodox one in the later Buddhist sculpture of Magadha, Nepal, and elsewhere b.

There is another detail in this little group of reliefs which takes us back to Gandhara models. I mean the curious representation of the coat of mail in the standing figure. We find exactly the same distinctive arrangement of the plates or scales in the armour worn by two soldiers in the well-known Gandhara relief in the Lahore Museum, showing Mara's army 6. These figures, equipped mainly like Greeks, wear below the waist a coat of mail in which the plates are ranged in horizontal rows, while another mail garment above, resembling a larica, shows scales in vertical order, and strangely enough also, as in our relief, with the rounded (or broadly pointed) ends upwards. In calling attention to this curious ranging of the scales, the reverse of that shown by the classical scale armour, Professor Grünwedel and Dr. Burgess have expressed a belief that the stone-cutter who produced this relief had shown the scales wrongly, the coat of mail being unintelligible to him 7. Seeing how exactly the same arrangement is represented in the Dandan-Uiliq relief, the question may well arise whether these sculptures, so widely separated by distance in time and space, do not both reproduce a genuine detail of Asiatic armour. My finds in the rubbish-heaps of the Niya Site included scales of hard leather which undoubtedly belonged to armour 9. The use of scale armour of horn among Central-Asian nations is attested from early classical times, and it is possible that for some reason or other the arrangement adopted by them for the fixing of the scales differed altogether from the western one 9.

However this may be, it seems to me highly probable that the artist has reproduced in

5 Compare Grünwedel-Burgess, Buddhist art, pp. I 67 sq.; for illustrations, ibid., Figs. 82, r r 5, 126, 127, rz8.

  • 6 Reproduced by Grünwedel-Burgess, Fig. 48. 7 See loc. cit., p. 97, note r. B See below, chap. xx. sec. vi.

s See Mollett, Illustrated Dictionary of An and Archaeology, p. 197. [The surmise expressed above has now been strikingly confirmed by Mr. Andrews' discovery of an old Tibetan coat of mail showing scales arranged exactly as in our figure ; see Addenda.]