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0154 Serindia : vol.1
Serindia : vol.1 / Page 154 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000183
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[Chap. IV

Appliqué decorations.

all bound to decay completely in a soil kept damp by constant irrigation, it is easy to realize why among the remains brought to light by the operations at Ybtkan ancient pottery should form the most substantial item. Once broken it was bound to be left where it lay, as rubbish without value, and yet, by the nature of its material, it was proof against any further injury. But vessels meant for actual use would but rarely, while intact, find their way into the protecting layers of débris, and this explains the interest attaching to the practically complete specimens which the new collections contain. Yo. o1. a (Plate Iv) is an amphora of fine red clay which retains most of its rich appliqué decoration. Of plain jugs (Yo. 00177 ; Khot. ooIoi, ooio2) the same plate furnishes an illustration, as well as of a small jug, Yo. oo6o, bearing decoration in incised lines and showing Greek influence in its shape. Of miniature vessels in varying shapes (Yo. 0014. a-c, 0039. b-d, f, 0055. c, d, oo69, 00129) Plate III reproduces specimens. The handles, usually double in these miniature models, must very often, in the full-sized amphoras and jugs, have been given the shape of grotesque animals to account for the large number of such decorative pieces found detached (Yo. 0015. f-1, 0023. d, oo3o. b, 0039. i, 0045. e, g, etc. ; see Plate II). Animals served also as spouts, as seen from Yo. 0023. a, etc. (Plate II). A curious vessel of uncertain purpose, perhaps meant for a censer, is seen in Yo. 00178 (Plate Iv).

The usual ornamentation of vases consisted of moulded appliqué pieces. Having been made separately and attached before firing, these would break off easily. This explains the abundance of

the grotesque masks which seem to have been the favourite decoration. Human faces from a considerable variety of moulds are seen in Yo. ooi. a-v, 0020, 0024. a-n, 0044. a-f, etc. (Plates I, III).

In some cases the expression and setting display unmistakable descent from the ` Gorgoneion ' type,

e. g. in Yo. 0012. a (Plate III), Yo. 0043. a (Plate IV). Among the animal masks those with a lion's face are most common (Yo. 0012. b-k, 0025, 0027. b, 0043. b-f, etc. ; see Plate II). But the ram's and

mastiff's heads are also represented (Yo. 0012. 1, 0058 ; Plate II). Whole figures or even groups

are also met with among these appliqué vase decorations (e. g. Yo. oo2I, 0059, 00184, etc. ; Plate I). A favourite motif is the garland-holding female figure meant for a Gandharvi which is so frequent

also elsewhere in the decorative art of old Khotan (Yo. 0018. a-c, 0040, 0042. a, 00194, etc. ;

Plate I). Among other subjects in vase ornamentation which Plate I reproduces, the fragment Yo. 0039. 1 is of particular interest, as it reveals that worship of Buddha's alms-bowl, which is

a scene so frequent in the sculptural art of Gandhara and is here treated in an almost identical

fashion. This influence of Graeco-Buddhist art is most strikingly demonstrated by the terra-cotta fragment, Yo. 02 (Plate I), once forming part, perhaps, of an exceptionally large vase, which shows

two musicians playing under the arcade of some structure. Here all the details of the elaborate

architectural setting, including ` Buddhist rail ' and Indo-Corinthian column, look as if borrowed directly from some Gandhâra relievos. In view of such intimate connexion with the architectural

style of Gandhâra it can cause no surprise to meet also with such unmistakable classical elements as the palmette, acanthus, and anthemion (see Yo. oI. c, 0023. c in Plate III ; Yo. 0055. a in Plate I ; Yo. 00J7 in Plate II)

It is probable that among the numerous heads, male and female, worked in the round, which the present collection includes, a considerable portion at least had served the purposes of vase

decoration, even though their exact application remains doubtful. They derive interest from the ethnic type clearly marked in them. This is particularly striking in the case of the male heads (Yo. 009. a-c ; Plates I, III). With their well-shaped ` Aryan ' features, including high-bridged noses and prominently set eyes, they seem to bear out what anthropological and other evidence leads us to assume about the racial character of the old Khotan population and its nexus with the Homo Alftinus type of the Pamir region. That the type intended must be essentially local becomes clear

Terra-cotta heads.