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0618 Serindia : vol.1
Serindia : vol.1 / Page 618 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000183
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expression of the eyes, the heavy eyebrows. meeting above the broad nose, the low forehead, and thick lips there seemed something curiously suggestive of the type by which late classical art represented northern barbarians, such as Scythians or Gauls. The right hand raised against the breast held a goblet, no doubt meant to be of glass, since the colours of the dress behind were made to shine through it. The coat of pale bluish-grey was crossed in front by a broad scarf showing bold arabesques in red and black over cream ground. Everything about the face, pose, and dress seemed to convey that whole-hearted attachment to the good things of this world which, judging from early Chinese accounts and other evidence, seems always to have been the predominant note in the character of the people inhabiting the oases of Eastern Turkestan, just as it is at the present day. As if prompted by an appropriate association, the painter had made the Phrygian-capped youth supporting the festoon immediately to the right carry a bunch of crimson grapes in his hand. The photograph reproduced in Fig. 136 has unfortunately failed to bring out this detail. The carefully painted figure with its large dreamy eyes was dressed in a closely-fitting green vest with sleeves, and carried a mauve-coloured cap or hood, beneath which small curly locks appeared fringing the forehead.

The male bust occupying the hollow of the festoon beyond could at a glance be recognized as an exact replica of the figures representing Prince Vessantara in the frieze above. It was evidently not by mere chance that this portrait had found its place in the dado just below the scene showing the prince in the act of giving away the white elephant. The appearance of this animal, emblematic of India, would suffice to make the position particularly appropriate if an Indian, too, was to be included in this striking cycle of portraits. The features of the face, clean-shaven except for a small curling moustache, such as the Graeco-Buddhist sculptors had borrowed for their favourite representation of Gautama Bodhisattva, probably from contemporary Indian fashion, and the dreamy-looking eyes conveyed an unmistakably Indian expression of softness. The locks of black hair descending below the ears helped to give an elongated appearance to the face. The head-dress conformed in all details to that worn by the Vessantara figures, and need not be described here again. The ample cloak of light green was thrown over the left shoulder. The greater part of the breast being thus left bare seemed, by contrast with the fully-draped appearance of the other portraits in the cycle, as if intended to mark out a stranger introduced from the far-off south. The large ornament in the ear, the broad jewelled band round the neck, and the heavy bracelets, all painted in dark red, are familiar to us from the frieze. Yet here, with this Indian figure brought into a company wholly worldly, they might, perhaps, be interpreted as symbolizing that naïve delight in rich jewellery to which Indian manhood of high rank has always been peculiarly prone, as is proved by abundant evidence, including the sculptures of Gandhara. The right hand seemed to raise a fruit, which. by its shape and colour, a clear buff with red edge, suggested a pomegranate.

On the right, beyond an anzorino with the leaf-shaped lock on the forehead and a reddish-brown loin-cloth over the hips, there appeared in the next lunette the portrait of a beautiful girl, carrying in graceful pose on her left shoulder a narrow-necked decanter of transparent ware and in her right hand a white patera (Figs. 138, 140). Her large eyes full of animation, turned half to the left and slightly upwards, seemed to offer a greeting to the visitor approaching from the entrance in the orthodox fashion. In her delicate and carefully drawn face, Greek features seemed to mingle strangely with others which recalled a Levantine or Circassian type of beauty. The white turban resting on the rich black hair pointed to the Near East or Iran. A red trimming passed across it to the right, where a black knob was fastened on with a red band. Long ringlets curling upwards at their ends descended in front of the ears, and a broad fringe of hair came down on the forehead decorated with three strings of red beads, probably representing corals. Long graceful pendants in

Bust of

Girl carrying decanter.