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0088 Serindia : vol.1
Serindia : vol.1 / Page 88 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000183
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Rock- carving at Charrun.

Representa- tion of StUpa.

Inscription of Charrun carving.


precipitous right bank of the river to the debouchure of the Drasan River, which unites all the streams from the valleys of Kashkar-Bala 22 The village of Reshun and the defile below Kuragh which I passed on the opposite bank were, indeed, historical sites, but the tragic events which they witnessed during the Chitral expedition are still too recent for antiquarian investigation. At the village of Kusht, near the debouchure reached late in the evening, there was no time for inspecting the fort, which was stated to date from the time of the ` Ra'is '. Nor did I hear at the time of the remains of a large ` Buddhist Chogten or Stûpa' which Major Biddulph mentions as existing ` in the Chitral Valley, on a conspicuous point near the road not far from the valley of Koosht ... and still spoken of as " the idol ".' 23

By crossing both the river of Drasan and the Yarkhûn, a little above their confluence, to the village of Charrun I had entered Mastûj territory. Before, however, I proceed to discuss the brief historical notices of the district which survive, it will be convenient to describe the pendant of the Pakhtôridini rock-carving which I examined close to Charrun village. I had heard of it already at Chitral, and on the morning of May i i was guided to the spot by Khan Sahib Pir Bakhsh, the worthy Indian Hospital Assistant who acts as adviser to the chief of Mastûj. In the midst of terraced fields, about a mile to the south-west of the village and at a point not far above the road descending the valley, a cultivator dwelling close by had, about eight years before my visit, come upon a large boulder of roundish shape bearing upon its north face the engraved representation of a Stûpa and a short inscription in Brahmi characters on either side (Fig. 6). Induced apparently by some lingering recollection of earlier worship, the villagers, good Muhammadans as they are, had cleared the boulder completely and erected a rude hut over it for protection.

The rock-carving, of which a drawing to scale is reproduced in Plate 2, shows a Stûpa measuring 3 feet 7 inches in height and 2 feet 6 inches across at the foot of the lowest base. Here, too, as at Pakhtôridini, appear all the chàracteristic features of the Stûpa type prevailing to the north of the Hindukush. There are the three successively receding bases, of which the topmost appears here also as the highest. Between it and the cylindrical drum bearing the dome, a strongly marked projecting cornice is inserted. For the latter I can find no parallel amongst the Stûpa ruins of the Tarim Basin known to me ; but it is present in the same position in the small Stûpa of Th6l, in Hunza,24 and it must have been a frequent feature in the Stûpas of Gandhara and Udyana, to judge from its characteristic representation in several sculptured Stûpa models and in stuccoed Stûpa bases still extant.25 To the cornice, marked by a simple line, which divides the drum from the dome, I have referred above.2" The height of the dome is in excess of a true hemispherical shape much in the same proportion as the one of Pakhtoridini. Above the dome is seen the pedestal intended to support the crowning spire of umbrellas, in a shape which is commonly met with in Gandhara Stûpa models.27 From it rises the staff, but, curiously enough, the umbrellas or discs which it was meant to carry have been left unrepresented.

The inscription engraved on either side of the Stûpa representation shows six well-cut Brahmi aksaras on the right, on the average 22 inches high and incised to a depth of about one-eighth of an inch. On the left, owing to the peeling of the surface of the somewhat friable sandstone, only three aksaras survive, and of these the first two are mere traces. There is no actual indication that more characters preceded these, but owing to the condition of the stone surface on that side, no certain conclusion can be drawn. On the right side, however, the inscription is manifestly intact, reading

R2 See Desert Cathay, i. 43 sq.

23 Cf. Hindoo Koosh, p. 109.

24 See Ancien! Khotan, i. p. 20, Fig. 4.

25 Cf., e. g. Foucher, L'Art du Gandhdra, i. Fig. 7r, 72,

and the remarkably well-preserved stuccoed Stripa bases excavated at Takhti•i-Bahi, Court T.XX, in 191 r. See pp. 37-8.

27 Cf. Foucher, /oc. cit., i. Figs. 22, 23, 70, 71.