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0483 Serindia : vol.1
Serindia : vol.1 / Page 483 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000183
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Sec. vii]   FINDS IN RUINS L.B. iv-vi   403

(Plate XXXiv), carved in a kind of half-round, represents a grotesque beast of a composite type closely resembling in character and design that seen in the chair-legs, N. xii. 3, which I excavated in 1901 at the Niya Site.° The pose and treatment distinctly recall the style of Persepolitan sculpture, with the suggestion of distant Assyrian ancestry, down to the many-coloured spirals which indicate the hair on the head and round the claws. The work is decidedly finer than in the corresponding pieces of the Niya Site, and the lacquered colours are better preserved.

The other, L.B. iv. v. 0023 (Plate XXXiv), larger and carved almost in the round; represents Carving of

also a composite figure, but in this case partly human, just like the other pair of mobsters, male and composite

female, N. xii. 3, found at the Niya Site with the chair-legs above mentioned. In almost all details of design the correspondence is most striking, as a comparison of Plate xXXIV with Plate LXX of Ancient Khotan will show, and to this is added the identity of dimensions, the length and width being in each case 132 and 22 inches, respectively. Our Lou-lan figure shows the head and bust of a human female with a face suggesting a Persian type. The small upright curled wings attached behind the breast are reminiscent of Greek Sphinx wings, and seem to emphasize descent from a monster familiar to classical art. This human portion of the figure rises out of a half-open lotus, through which the transition is effected into the lower part showing the leg and hoof of a horse. The brilliantly preserved colours of the lacquered surface add greatly to the artistic effect of the carving. In discussing the Niya Site figure, of which ours might almost be.called a replica, I have pointed out that the idea and shape of such composite monsters had already been borrowed by the Buddhist sculpture of Gandhara from the classical West, as proved by the frequent appearance in it of those ` Ichthyocentaurs ' which combine human heads and busts with such disparate members as birds' wings, horses' legs, and serpentine fish tails.10 It is difficult at present to explain the exact purpose which was served by the black-lacquered bar fixed into a mortice at the back of the figure's head and by its wooden hinge. The same mortice is found also in the corresponding Niya Site carving. That the two uprights of L.B. iv. v had belonged to the same piece of furniture seems in any case highly probable, seeing that at N. xii, too, carved figures representing the two types of animal and semi-human monsters were found together in the same room and practically at the same spot.

The other wood-carvings found in room v showed a style of decoration derived with equal Decorative

clearness from classical art. The two panels L.B. iv. v. 0012, 0030 (Plate XXXiv) are particularly carvings incssi-

interesting. The first shows a very vigorous and graceful relievo decoration of the palmette type

cal style.

which could easily be mistaken for good Byzantine work. The second, about 16 inches long, looks like part of a wooden pilaster from a piece of panelling. The four hanging wreaths carved in low relievo and cinctured, which adorn its shaft, bear a curious late Roman appearance, and might fitly take their place as a specimen of Empire furniture. For smaller fragments see L.B. Iv. v. 002, 004 (Plate xxxiv).

Fragments of lacquered wood belonging-to furniture or utensils turned up in great numbers Miscel(L.B. Iv. v. oo8, 009, 0014-16, 0022, 0027), and for some the technique or bamboo material laneous finds in lac-distinctly suggests Chinese manufacture. This is certain in the cise of L.B. Iv. v. 0029, which quer, ivory, belonged to a lacquered bowl of the same type as found in the ruined watch-stations of the Tun- etc. huang Limes. The large ivory die, L.B. Iv. v. 0034 (Plate XXXVI), 4 inches long, is of interest, as it shows a shape and marking which is still common in India in dies used for divination. A similarly marked die, but much smaller, I had found in 1901 at the Niya Site." The base of

See Ancient Kholan, i. p. 336 ; ii. Pl. LXX.

10 Cf. ibid., i. pp. 336 sq.; also Foucher, L'ar! du Gan-

dhdra, i. pp. 241 sq.

" Cf. Ancient Kholan, i. pp. 374, 411 ; ii. Pl. LXXIV.