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0224 Serindia : vol.1
Serindia : vol.1 / Page 224 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000183
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Remains of wall paintings.

ooi8 ; i. 0036 ; ii. oo83, and the ornamented frieze and base, Kha. i. E. 0044 : i. 9, reproduced in Plate XVII, which may all have belonged to the central image base of Kha. i, they include amongst pieces carved in the round a Buddha figure, Kha. ii. N. oo8 (Plate cxxxviIi) ; a lotus-seat pedestal, Kha. ii. N. ooi6 ; and the web-fingered hand of a statuette, Kha. i. 186. A very curious piece, of uncertain purpose, is the large and cleverly naturalistic relievo, Kha. i. E. 0043 (Plate XVII), representing a large-horned mountain-goat.

No relics of Khâdalik can rouse more regret at the utter wrecking which these shrines suffered than the fragments of frescoes recovered. Distinctly superior in design as well as colouring to most of the Dandan-oilik wall paintings and yet closely connected in style, they give us a tantalizingly scanty glimpse of the pictorial art of Buddhist Khotan which we know to have strongly influenced religious art in China from the commencement of the Tang period.' Of the disjecla meml ra I was able to pick up from the débris of Kha. i, and mainly from the area of its cella, only a selection could be included in Plates XI and XII, and these, too, fail to convey an adequate impression of the rich and harmonious colouring. For this and all details of technique I must refer the reader to Mr. Andrews's full and expert notes in the Descriptive List below. Here it must be noted that all these paintings are done in tempera. As to the way in which the backing of clayey loess admixed with vegetable fibre was prepared with a thin smooth layer of plaster of Paris to receive the distemper, the chemical analysis supplied by Sir Arthur Church in Appendix D furnishes interesting information.

The photograph (Fig. 41) taken on the spot shows the largest piece of wall painting which survived, measuring about nine by five feet. This illustrates what, from the considerable number of similar but much smaller pieces found elsewhere, may be taken to have been the usual scheme for decorating the lower portions of the passage walls. It consists of horizontal rows of small Buddhas, each within a separate niche (four by four and a half inches), seated on a lotus cushion and surrounded by a vesica. The robes of the Buddhas are shown red, dark brown, white or cream, and this variation of costume, with corresponding changes in the colours of nimbus, vesica, and background, is utilized to produce a regular diaper of six different types in one row, the uniform representations being so arranged as to form a diagonal line running downwards from the left to the right. The passages of two Dandân-oilik shrines D. II and vI,8 showed an exactly corresponding decorative arrangement which, no doubt, was produced there as here by the convenient use of stencils.

At a height of about four and a half feet from the floor this part of the passage wall contained the fresco panel reproduced in Plate XI (Kha. i. C. oo97). It was found broken into five main and several smaller pieces. Considering the very friable nature of the wall plaster. I had reason to be gratified by the result of my packing when after the arrival .of the fragments in London it was found possible to reunite them in one panel. In the centre is seen a red-robed Buddha, seated in the ` Nyâyamudrä' and flanked on either side by the richly draped Bodhisattva figure which from the flask carried in the left hand may be taken to be some form of Maitreya. The head with its rich black tresses is curiously suggestive of Persian influence. But the graceful drapery of the lower garment and scarf is, like the well-designed figure itself, directly derived from Graeco-Buddhist models. We shall see, hereafter, how closely the frescoes and silk paintings of the `Thousand Buddhas' of Tun-huang approach the types here represented,

Subject of large fresco panel.

7 For the important part played in Chinese art history by the Khotanese school which Wei-ch'ih I-sheng, a member of the Khotan royal family, brought to fame in China in the early part of the seventh century, cf. Dr. Hirth's very pertinent

remarks in his review of ' Desert Cathay ', The Nation, xcv. p. 146 ; also Hirth, Fremde FilAisse in der chinesischen Kunst, pp. 35 sqq.

8 See Ancient Khotan, ii. PI. III, IV.