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0475 Serindia : vol.1
Serindia : vol.1 / Page 475 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000183
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gilding, to indicate the possibility of their having been intended as votive Stûpa models like those still smaller ones so frequently found in clay.°

Among the individual pieces of decorative wood-carving to which we may now turn two main groups can conveniently be distinguished. The first comprises pieces of varying sizes which, from the character of their relievo carving or from other indications, may be assumed to have been used as beams or otherwise in a horizontal position along the inside or outside of the walls. I have already referred above to the fine beam with mitred ends, L.B. II. 0037 (Plate XxxI), which

appears to have formed a lintel over one of the doorways. It is decorated with a floral scroll of real beauty, which shows motives of unmistakably classical origin. This accounts for the striking

similarity of this scroll to ` Coptic ' decorative carvings of the Early Christian period, as referred to

in the descriptive list below. The Hellenistic type of the motif is particularly striking in the graceful triple leaves filling the hollows of the winding stems and the six-petalled rosettes. These

triple leaves appear in practically identical form and arrangement also in the decoration of Gandhara relievos.6a The piece L.B. II. 0036 (Plate xxxi), which shows the same pattern but without central interlacing or mitred ends, may have occupied a position of corresponding height on the wall as a decorative frieze continuing the lintel. The dimensions of the two pieces, L.B. u. 0036-37, in relation to the total available length of wall, would permit of this assumption.

The four wooden beams of large size, L.B. II. 0015. a—d (Plate xxxI), undoubtedly formed part of a horizontal wall decoration, probably placed lower down than the frieze just conjectured.

The chief feature of their ornamentation is a series of hanging circles linked by straight cinctures and each containing an eight-petalled flower (lotus or rosette). The scroll ornament thus formed

corresponds very closely to the one which I found painted all round the walls of the main hall in

the ruin N. ni of the Niya Site excavated in 1901, and which there occupied a position about 3 feet 8 inches below the top of the walls.' Both the scroll and the flowers are undoubtedly

derived from motives of floral decoration common in Gandhara relievos.8 Half-rosettes of the same

type fill the spandrels above and below, as well as the triangles left between diagonally crossing bands at one end of each beam. The same rosettes are seen in L.B. n. 0013 (Plate xxxi) within

the oval spaces formed by interlacing branches, a decorative design found equally in ` Coptic ' carved friezes (see list below). On narrower beams, L.B. II. 0035. a, b (Plates XXXi, XXxIII), we observe a relievo band of a plain but effective lozenge pattern edged by billeted mouldings of a classical type.

Of distinct interest, but unfortunately very poorly preserved, is the wooden beam L.B. II. oo27 (Plate xxxIi). Its relievo carving shows the upper parts of eight human figures, likely to be

intended for Buddhas or Bodhisattvas, arranged in a row apparently under arcades. This

decorative scheme, too, has its exact counterpart in Gandhara relievo sculpture.° On another badly-decayed beam or panel, L.B. II. 0032, we have the relievo design of two running

animals facing a central figure, unfortunately too indistinct for reproduction. The fragment of a beam or panel, L.B. II. 007 (Plate xxxii), deserves notice for the good free carving in its relievo decoration of leaves and tendrils. Simpler in design are the two long carved pieces, L.B. II. 0025-26 (Plate xxxi), which by the slanting cast of their ends are also marked as beams. Their decoration consists of plain interlacing ribbons which form lozenges filled by four-petalled rosettes.

Beams with decorative carving.

Ornamental motives.

Human and animal figures.

Cf. above, p. 161, and below, chap. xxvt. sec. iii.

'a See e.g. Foucher, L'art du Gandhdra, i. p. 337, Fig. I 74. ' Cf. Ancient Khotan, i. p. 333; ii• Pl. VII.

8 Cf. Foucher, L'art du Gandhdra, i. p. 218, Figs. 96, 213 ; Grünwedel-Burgess, Buddhist Art, Fig. 48.

9 Cf. e.g. Foucher, L'art du Gandhdra, i. Figs. 77, 134136; also now ii. pp. 329 sqq., Fig. 457 ; also the stucco friezes in my article, Excavations at Sahri-bahlôl, Archaeo- logical Survey Report, 1988-82, PI. XLIV, L.