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0588 Serindia : vol.1
Serindia : vol.1 / Page 588 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000183
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Analogy of painted frieze in

M. v.

Composition unbroken.


its origin and successful application mainly to the technical skill and devoted care of Mr. F. H. Andrews. In illustration of the most satisfactory results which he secured by it, I may invite a comparison between the condition of the main figure in panel M. III. 003, as originally discovered at the foot of the wall (see Fig. 127), and the appearance of the same Buddha figure in the joined-up panel reproduced in Plate XLII. The big cracks visible in the photograph, showing the condition of the piece on discovery, have closed up so well in the panel as finally secured that they have become almost imperceptible, and yet the original painted surface has been left entirely unaltered.

The known original position of this panel furnishes us with a very useful indication of the size of the frieze to which it belonged, just as its subject does of the probable character of the composition adorning it. From the size of the figures and the fragments of the border that survive, it can safely be concluded that the height of the frieze is likely to have been approximately similar to that of the frieze next to the dado which I found still partially surviving on the walls of the adjoining rotunda M. v, viz. between three and four feet. The vermilion colour of the background, a kind of Pompeian red, which we see in M. in. 003, was certainly common to the friezes of both shrines. To these points of agreement I may add at once two others of more importance which we shall see clearly proved presently : close similarity in style, and the fact that both friezes treat of scenes drawn from Buddhist iconography. All these indications combined are sufficient to create a presumption that the general scheme of grouping is likely in both friezes to have exhibited the same close correspondence which we shall further on be able to trace as regards the decorative scheme governing the design of both dados.

Now in the case of the frieze decorating the rotunda M. v, as seen in the photographs Figs. 134-40, it is certain, firstly, that the scenes depicted in it extended as a continuous band round the walls, except where the latter had two openings giving light and access to the circular passage of the cella, and, secondly, that the scenes were all meant to illustrate incidents of the same Jâtaka story. In the shrine M. III, with the plan of which M. v shows otherwise the closest agreement, the circular wall of the interior was, as we have already seen, divided by a door and three windows into four equal segments. Only from two of these, on the north-east and south-east, were fragments of the friezes once surmounting the dado recovered. But even these suffice to throw light on two points of importance. In the first place, they show that the paintings within each segment formed a continuous composition. In the second place, a closer examination of the fragments makes it appear very probable that the scenes represented in at least the lower of the friezes all belonged to the same Buddhist legend, whether taken from the life of Gautama Buddha or from one of the Jâtaka stories relating to Buddha's previous births.

The first point is established by evidence which, though negative, seems none the less

at the British Museum during the years 1910—II by   glass bent exactly to the curve which the known diameter of

Mr. F. H. Andrews and, under the direction of his artist eye,   the rotunda indicated for the surfaces originally occupied by

by my second assistant Mr. J. P. Droop, with extreme care   them. After the several pieces had thus been reassembled in

and skill.   their correct position, a thin layer of plaster of Paris was

It may be useful to record here the exact technical method   spread over the whole as a new backing. This was sub-

followed. The painted fragments were placed with their sur   sequently strengthened by a wire grating connected with

face downwards on strong panes of plate glass. After the   a wooden frame, and finally an outer and thicker layer of

backing of clay and straw had been slowly removed by care   plaster of Paris was applied, in which the grating became

ful scraping, etc., until only the smooth surface layer of   embedded. After having been treated in this manner the

plaster of Paris remained, the several pieces belonging to one   panels could be handled with perfect ease and safety.

panel could be moved into the position requisite for correct   It ought to be clearly recorded that the slightest attempt

junction by the guidance of the image which was reflected on   at supplementing missing bits of the original painted surface

a mirror placed at a suitable distance below the glass pane.   or at other ' restoration ' of any sort has been rigorously

Care was taken to use, for all the larger panels, panes of   avoided.

Height and ground colour of frieze.