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0591 Serindia : vol.1
Serindia : vol.1 / Page 591 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000183
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we find the former concealed by a top-knot of abundant curling hair. It is of special interest to note the rippling lock before the ear and the small moustache ; they are features distinctly divergent from what Indian tradition prescribed, yet exemplified also by some, and far from the least interesting, of the Gandhâra statues of Buddha.2

The omission of the firl.tii between the brows is another noteworthy departure from the Heads of

laksanas prescribed b'y Indian Buddhist convention ; though rare, it can be paralleled in Gandhâra disciples.

sculpture, too. But positive and far more striking evidence of the predominance of classical, or to put it more exactly Hellenistic, models is supplied by the large, well-opened, and straight-set eyes of teacher and disciples alike. There is nothing in them of that elongated and slanting look which the eyes, usually half-shut even in Graeco-Buddhist sculptures, invariably display as a special mark of beauty in all painted representations of sacred Buddhist figures from Khotan to Japan. The heads of the disciples, though all shaven in full accord with the Buddhist rule for monks, show the Western type if anything even more strongly. Their shape is rounder than that of the head of the Buddha, and in spite of decidedly hooked noses there is nothing to suggest that either Semitic or Indian features are intended. By the introduction of slight changes in wrinkles and in fullness and expression of face, the painter has cleverly managed to mark individual differences, due to age, etc.

Those big eyes, however, with their frank European look, are common to all the heads, and Details de-

any possible doubt as to the source from which the artist derived them is removed by the peculiar Helé nis is

pose of the left hand of the last disciple in the lower row on the right. Its curving fingers appear painting.

from inside the robe and close on its edge, just as the hand in hundreds of classical statues of the Hellenistic and Roman periods is shown emerging from inside the toga. Where the predominance of classical models is so strikingly attested by details, we need not hesitate either in tracing to Western inspiration the skilful way in which the monotony of the heads in the group of disciples is diversified by intentional differences of gaze. While those on the left and nearest fix their eyes on the Master, others look straight before them or more directly towards the spectator. We shall observe an exactly corresponding artistic device also in the disposition of the angel' heads in the dado, and feel, therefore, all the more justified in recognizing here, too, the reflex of a practice clearly traceable in the scanty remains that we possess of Hellenistic painting in the Near East. Professor J. Strzygowski, a most competent authority, calls attention to the same intentional alternation in the direction of the eyes when discussing the portrait medallions which decorate the walls of a tomb chamber at Palmyra, dating from about A. D. 259, and traces it also among the encaustic portrait panels from the Fayyttm tombs.3 A large proportion of these, too, may be ascribed to the early centuries of the Christian era, and thus chronological relationship bears out the conjectured origin of this feature in our Mirân wall-paintings.

That the sculptor-decorators of Gandhâra borrowed most of their stock-in-trade as to poses, Dependence

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drapery, and similar plastic details straight from the classical models domiciled in the Hellenized a t methods Near East has been recognized long ago, and is illustrated by such an abundance of examples as to need no demonstration here. But as regards the pictorial art of Gandhâra there are no remains left there to bear similar testimony. It was reserved for the fresco fragments brought to light from these early Buddhist shrines, in the most distant corner of the Tarim Basin, to furnish conclusive proof that this dependence on Western art methods and style must have been also equally close from the very first as far as painting is concerned, and to show us that it extended even to matters of mere technique. In the latter respect we could scarcely wish for more striking testimony than that furnished by the regular employment of methods of ` light and shade ', wherever flesh is painted

2 Cf. Grünwedel-Burgess, ibid., pp. x66, x68 sq.   3 Cf. J. Strzygowski, Orient oder Rom, p. 3o.