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0625 Serindia : vol.1
Serindia : vol.1 / Page 625 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000183
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Sec. viii]



directness of the influence then exercised by the Hellenistic art of the Near East even in this remote corner of Central Asia. Hence it need cause no surprise that one of the artists employed on them should have borne a name which must have been common in those times among the Oriental subjects of Rome or Byzantium from the Mediterranean shores to the Tigris. It is as a sort of Roman Eurasian, largely Oriental by blood but brought up in Hellenistic traditions, that I should picture to myself this painter-decorator, whom his calling had carried, no doubt through the regions of Eastern Iran impregnated with Buddhism, to the very confines of China.

That men of much the same origin had travelled there, to the ' land of the Seres ', long before him is a fact which is fortunately proved by a classical passage of Ptolemy's Geography. In it he speaks of the information about the great trade route connecting Syria with the capital of the Seres which the geographer Marinus of Tyre (tire. A. D. loo) had obtained through ` Maës, called also Titianus, a Macedonian, and a merchant like his father before him ', who had sent his agents by it.5 And as in Ptolemy's pages we follow their track from the Euphrates and Tigris northeastwards to their distant goal in the land of the silk-weaving Seres, we find that it carries us through Persia to that very region of Bactria where Buddhism had established its oldest Central-Asian home, and where for many centuries it continued to flourish. There is much to suggest the conjecture that in Bactria men like the painter of our Mirân frescoes might best have learned to apply their skill as versatile craftsmen to the adornment of Buddhist shrines. But not until the ruined mounds around Balkh and the cave-temples in the Hindukush valleys to the south have been systematically explored can we hope to define and localize clearly the chief stage where Graeco-Buddhist art on its way to China underwent Iranian influences.

See Journal Asiat., mai—juin 1911, p. 417.

Without following up further the fascinating glimpse into the art history of innermost Asia Foreign

which this small inscription, if rightly interpreted, opens for us, I may appropriately mention here painter's

own record.

an interesting epigraphic conclusion which suggested itself to M. Boyer when first informed of my

proposed identification of Tita as Titus. It may best be reproduced here in the eminent Indologist's own words : ` Sur quoi je remarquerai que, admise l'identification de Tita = Titus, nous aurions

peut-être là une explication des irrégularités d'écriture signalées plus haut, je dis celles qui con-

cernent le tracé des aksaras ca et [Manz]: l'auteur de l'inscription étant, it n'y a pas lieu d'en douter, l'auteur de la fresque elle-même, elles seraient attribuables au fait que cette inscription fut tracée par un étranger, doublé d'un artiste.' 6

It only remains for me briefly to record M. Boyer's decipherment of the second short inscription which, as mentioned above, was painted in a regular and clerical-looking hand on the lintel above the palace gate (Fig. 142). Being perfectly clear in my tracing, it could be read with certainty as

ese isidate bujhanai/ulre

and rendered as meaning : ` This is Isidata, the son of Bujhami.' There can be no doubt that this brief inscription, as M. Boyer rightly points out and as its position from the first suggested, refers to Prince Vessantara seen riding just beneath it. The fact of his being named here Isidata (from Sanskrit Rsidatla) is of interest, but need not surprise us ; for it only adds one more to the varying names, Su-ta-na (Skr. Sudâna), Hszi-to-na, Sudansslra, by which Vessantara (Vi§vantara) is known to Buddhist tradition.' Whether the otherwise unknown name Bujhami is to be referred to Sailjaya, Vessantara's father, or Phusati, his mother, as they are respectively named in the 7dtaka text, cannot be determined. It will be well to look out for these new forms of the names whenever a Sogdian or other Central-Asian version of the legend comes to light among our manuscript finds.

5 Cf. P/olemaei geographic (ed. C. Müller), r. xi. 6 ; also   4 Cf. Chavannes, B.E.F.E.O., iii. p. 413, n. 7 ; Watters,

Sir Henry Yule's translation, Calhay 2, i. pp. x87 sqq.   Yuan Chwang, i. p. 217.

Near-Eastern art influence affects Bactria.

Kharosthr inscription on palace gate.

3 Y 2