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E. Gate, 4th (top) compartment right, or inner face of the left pillar, Great Stupa

E. Gate, 4th (top) compartment right, or inner face of the left pillar, Great Stupa

Artist: Maisey, Frederick Charles (1825-1892)

Medium: Pencil on paper

Date: 1850

Shelfmark: WD546

Item number: 9

Length: 18.2

Width: 15.5

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Drawing

Pencil and wash drawing by Frederick Charles Maisey of the sculptures on the inner face of the left pillar of the east gateway of the stupa of Sanchi, dated 1847-1854. Inscribed: 'Plate XV.' On back: 'Plate XV. Fig 1. Old Plate XX.'

Lieutenant Maisey spent the cold seasons of 1849-50 and 1850-51 at Sanchi to prepare an illustrated Govenment report of the antiquities of the site. He was joined by Major Alexander Cunningham in 1851.

The scene depicted in this panel represents Indra and Brahma visiting Buddha. Buddha was represented aniconically in early Buddhist art and his presence is here symbolised by the garlanded parasol attended by two worshippers surrounded by various animals around a lotus pond.

The great Stupa of Sanchi is the finest example of monumental architecture of the Shunga era. Situated in a peaceful and meditative site crowning a hilltop, Sanchi was ideally located in proximity to the prosperous city of Vidisha. The foundation of this monastic centre were laid by the emperor Ashoka (reigned 269-232 BC ca.) who built the original stupa and erected a monolithic pillar in the third century BC. The stupa was later enlarged and encased in stone around the1st century BC under the Shungas and four magnificent gateways or toranas were added at the cardinal points. These consist of square posts supporting three curved architraves with scrolled ends. They are completely covered with relief sculptures depicting Jatakas (stories of the Buddha's earlier incarnations), scenes from the life of the historical Buddha and Buddhist symbols.

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