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0590 Serindia : vol.1
Serindia : vol.1 / Page 590 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000183
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Standing Buddha in panel M. III. 003.

Figures of

GraecoBuddhist treatment of Buddha.

Having dealt in the foregoing section with the general character of the fresco decoration in the shrine M. III, we may now proceed to the examination of the portions and fragments that I was able to bring back from it. In the panel M. ui. 003 (Plate xLII), which has served as a starting-point for our introductory remarks, we see a Buddha standing, dressed in a dark purple-brown robe which is passed over both shoulders. It is almost of that kasâya colour which Indian tradition has since early times prescribed for ascetics and mendicant teachers. From the circular halo and the characteristic top-knot of hair, partly broken, it may be concluded with certainty that the teacher is meant for a Buddha. But until the legend which the painted frieze illustrated is identified, it is impossible to make sure whether Gautama I3uddha or some earlier ` Enlightened One ' is intended. His right hand is raised in what I first took to be the Abhaya-mudrâ or ` pose of protection'. But, as Dr. Venis has been good enough to point out, the thumb instead of being held up straight, as it ordinarily is in this mudra, is incurved. Touching the second joint of the third finger, i. e. the eighth on the hand, it seems intended to suggest that the teacher is expounding either ` the eight-fold way ' or ` the eight Pâramitas'. The left hand is held low in front and evidently supporting drapery.

Behind the Buddha and to his left there are six disciples, ranged in two rows and wearing robes which display a variety of colours from bright green to dark red. Their shaven heads mark them as leading the life of monks. The one on the left end of the upper row and nearest to the teacher has his right shoulder bared and carries in his raised right hand a white Yak-tail fan or Caurf, the traditional emblem of sovereign power in Indian iconography. As M. Foucher first pointed out to me, this figure may be assumed to represent Ananda, the favourite disciple of Gautama Buddha, if the latter is intended by the haloed teacher. The dark conical mass which is seen on the right of the disciples, studded with red and white flowers and poppy-like leaves of greenish-grey, represents part of a tree, as is clearly proved by a comparison with the trees appearing on the frieze of M. v in Figs. 136-38. Against the background of the tree appears the upraised right arm of a figure, otherwise lost, grasping a handful of white buds or flowers, apparently in the act of throwing them. This background and a corresponding one with well-drawn leaves, of which a portion remains behind the Buddha's right hand, make it clear that the scene is laid in a garden or grove, as in so many of the stories connected with Buddha's life or related in the J âtakas.

It is possible that this remnant of a figure grasping or throwing flowers may yet help to determine the legend which the frieze was intended to illustrate, and from which a particular scene was evidently represented in the portion here under discussion. Neither this nor any of the other fragments have as yet yielded a clue to the identification of the legend. But, in any case, it is not the iconographic purport, whatever it may yet prove to be, but the artistic treatment in composition, design, and style of painting which gives to this broken fresco panel its special value and interest. There can be here no possible doubt that the character of the subject is Buddhist, but none either that all the essential details of its presentation have been adapted from classical models just as they would be if we had before us this scene carved in a Graeco-Buddhist relievo from Gandhâra. The head of the Buddha shows a type unmistakably Western with a slight Semitic touch in the nose. The painter has as little difficulty as the Gandhâra sculptor had in combining, with the general outlines derived from the Hellenistic art of the Near East, the protuberance (us?tica) of the head and the pierced, long-lobed ears, both of which regard for the old-established Buddhist convention of India imperatively demanded.1 Just as in all the Graeco-Buddhist representations of Buddha,

   ' Cf. Grünwedel-Burgess, Buddhist An in India, pp.   elements in the representation of Buddha by the Gandhâra

   163 sqq., for a careful analysis of the classical and Indian   sculptors.