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0571 Ancient Khotan : vol.1
Ancient Khotan : vol.1 / Page 571 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000182
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Sec. iii]   THE RAWAK STOPA   485

average 20 by 14 in., with a thickness of 32 to 4 in., showing a size practically identical with that of the Ak-sipil bricks. As seen in the plan, the enclosing wall along the whole of the longer sides of the quadrangle, except for a portion near the south corner, was covered by high sand rising to over 20 ft. above the original ground-level, and was thus inaccessible to examination. On the shorter south-east face, however, the top of the wall rose for the greatest part above the sand (as seen in Fig. 6o). Here, too, the position of a gate was indicated by a gap in the centre ; subsequent excavation proved it to have been 82 ft. wide. That the opposite side of the enclosure, to the north-west, had no corresponding gate could easily be ascertained without excavation, as in the central part of that face the top of the wall forming a continuous line was just visible above the sand. The latter was here fully io ft. high, and no excavation could be attempted. It thus seems probable that the gate in the south-east face was the only entrance to the court.

The centre of the quadrangle is occupied by the imposing Stûpa base which, as shown by the section in Plate X X X I X, rises in three stories to a height of 22-1 ft. above the floor of the court. The photograph (Fig. 59) shows the upper portion of this base with the extant part of the dome as seen from the south after some clearing had been effected. Parts of the base are visible also in the background of the photographs reproduced in Plate XVI. a—c. The lowest story, 78 ft. square and 72 ft. high, rests on a plinth of four steps showing an aggregate elevation of 3 ft. The second story is 452 ft. square, with a height of 9 ft. It is surmounted by a circular drum, 3 ft. high and receding on the top, which serves as a plinth for another circular drum forming part of the Stûpa dome. The masonry of the latter has remained intact only to a height of about 82 ft. (see Fig. 59), and it is thus impossible to determine at what elevation the dome proper sprang from this drum. Nor could anything definite be ascertained as to the original shape of the cupola.

Judging from the little débris found on the topmost portions of the base, I doubt whether the dome could have been very high. As the above measurements show, the top of its extant masonry was found to rise to about 31 ft. above the level of the court. The diameter of the circular drum forming part of the dome proved to be a little over 32 ft. It seems to have had an inner chamber about 72 ft. in diameter ; but this could not be exactly determined, as a large cutting had been made, apparently long before my visit, into the dome from the west. Treasure-seeking operations, no doubt, account also to a large extent for the broken state of the top of the dome. The cutting showed clearly that the dome, like the rest of the structure, had been solidly constructed of sun-dried bricks of the same size as those measured in the quadrangle wall. Also the base had been exposed to repeated attacks of treasure-seekers, as was proved by the short galleries which were found to have been tunnelled into both the upper and lower square story on the south-east face (see the plan and Fig. 59, Pl. XVI. a-c).

I have referred so far only to those main features in the base in which the typical and orthodox arrangement in three stories found expression. But a look at Plate XL will show that considerable variation and originality was introduced into the ground-plan by a series of bold projections on each face of the base supporting well-proportioned flights of steps. Through these projections the ground-plan of the base has assumed the shape of a symmetrically developed cross, each of the four arms of which extend about 52 ft. on the lowest level, as measured from the centre line of the Stûpa. The broad flights of steps which occupied the centre of each of the four faces of the base, and, carried by the projecting portions, led up without a break from the level of the court to the very foot of the dome (see section on line AB in Plate XXXIX; also Fig. 59, Plate XVI. b, c), must have been an imposing architectural feature. The one on the south-east

Base of Stùpa.

Stnpa dome.

F1;ghts of steps on Stüpa base.