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0311 Ancient Khotan : vol.1
Ancient Khotan : vol.1 / Page 311 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000182
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Sec. iii]   ART RELICS OF SHRINE D. u   253

this figure details of dress and ornament with which he was familiar from his own times. The point is of the more interest because we may with great probability recognize in the figure Kubera or Vaigravana, the most prominent of the four Yaksa kings or Lokapalas who, as we have seen, was an object of special worship at Khotan. Vaigravana is represented in one of the pillar sculptures from Barhut (Barahat) as standing on a pointed-eared thick-set demon', and has retained this Yaksa as his cognizance or vâhana even in Lamaism and Japanese Buddhism 10. His character as the god of wealth (Dhanapati) might well be indicated in our relief by the bag of gold, if that be intended by the object held in the demon-king's right hand u. Seeing the position occupied by this figure in one corner of the cella below the platform, it seems probable that the pedestals in the other three corners (compare Plate LXVI) once bore images of the remaining three Lokapalas.

The cella wall immediately adjoining the relief group revealed at its base a series of small fresco paintings, which by their unconventional subjects and their spirited drawing at once attracted my attention. The one nearest on the left, as seen in the photograph (Plate II), shows a woman standing in an oblong tank of water, enclosed by a tesselated pavement and filled with lotuses. The figure, i 8 inches high as far as seen above the water, is nude except for a large red headdress resembling an Indian ftagri and profuse ornaments round the neck, arms and wrists, and is drawn with remarkable verve, in simple but graceful outlines of true flesh-colour. The right hand, with its shapely fingers, rests against the breasts, while the left arm is curved down towards the middle of the waist. Fourfold strings of small bells (or beads ?) are shown hanging_ in elegant curves around the hips, just as in representations of dancing-girls and other female attendants in early Indian sculpture, while, curiously enough, an elaborate vine-leaf appears where post-classical convention would place its fig-leaf. The woman's face is turned to her proper right, down towards a small figure of a male, also nude, who is shown as if trying to rise from the water by holding to her side. Further to the left appear the head and shoulders of another small male figure, just rising above the water as if in the act of swimming. In the foreground, and in front of the tank, the foot of the fresco showed in faint but unmistakable outlines a small riderless horse, closely resembling, in its dappled colour, trappings, and pose, the horse represented on the painted tablet D. vu. 5 (Plate LI X). The empty saddle of characteristic deep shape can still be made out in the original photograph.

The delineation of the lotus-flowers rising from the tank in a variety of forms, closed or half open, as well as their colours, ranging from dark blue to deep purple, seemed quite true to nature, and distinctly suggested that these sacred flowers were familiar to the painter from personal observation. In the Tao-tai's garden at Kâshgar I had seen a tank full of splendid lotuses which had been grown from seed imported from China, and in view of this pictorial representation I think it safe to assume that ancient Khotan had known the graceful plant dear to the gods of India. Considering the close historical connexion between Kashmir and Khotan, as attested by some of the local traditions with which Hsüan-tsang's record has already acquainted us, it needed no special effort of imagination on my part to believe that the lotuses of ancient Khotan were originally derived from the lakes of the great Himalayan Valley where I had so often admired them.

The subject of this small fresco, as well as individual features of its figures, presents points of considerable interest. It was the appearance of the riderless horse in front of the tank

10 See Grünwedel-Burgess, loc. cit., pp. 4o note, 41 ;   specially noted.

Grünwedel, Mythologie des Buddhismus, pp. 6, 181, where the   " Comp. Grünwedel-Burgess, pp. 136 sq.
blue colour of the demon in Tibetan representations is


identified as Vaiiravana.


Fresco painting on east wall.


Representa- tion of lotuses.


Identification of fresco subject.