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Rear face of the bottom lintel of the North Gateway of large, or No 1. Sthupa Plate XII

Rear face of the bottom lintel of the North Gateway of large, or No 1. Sthupa Plate XII

Artist: Maisey, Frederick Charles (1825-1892)

Medium: Pencil on paper

Date: 1850

Shelfmark: WD546

Item number: 8

Length: 32.8

Width: 26

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Drawing

Pencil drawing heightened in white by Frederick Charles Maisey of the sculptured panel on the rear architrave of the gateway of the stupa of Sanchi and two plans. These drawings are taken from an album of 60 drawings dated 1847-1854.

Fig.1 is the panel carved on the rear of the lower architrave of the north gateway of the Stupa of Sanchi. It depicts the Vessantara Jataka, a story of Buddha's previous life as a king, just before his incarnation as Siddhartha. The jataka is continued from the front face of the architrave, where king Vessantara has given away his kingdom and all his possessions to those in need. To the right in the panel the king and his family are seated in their hut in the forest. In the next scene (centre) Vessantara gives away his children to a cruel cruel Brahmin, who sells them into slavery. To the left of this, Vessantara, gives away his wife to lead a hermitage life. In the last scene the god Indra reunites the family.

The north gateway on which this panel is carved consists of two square posts crowned with a group of four elephants and two shalabhanjika, females figures grasping the branch of a tree. These support a triple architrave with scrolled ends. The gateway is completely covered of sculptures depicting various episodes of the life of Buddha Sakhyamuni. The core of the Great Stupa of Sanchi is believed to date from the time of Ashoka (3rd century BC). The stupa was later enlarged and encased in stone around the1st century BC under the Shungas when the four magnificently carved gateways called toranas were added at the cardinal points. Figs. 2, 3, 4 show the restored plan and the section of the enclosure (harmika)around the umbrella (chatta )that crowns the stupa.

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