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W. Gate, 2nd compartment, inner face of right pillar, Great Stupa

W. Gate, 2nd compartment, inner face of right pillar, Great Stupa

Artist: Maisey, Frederick Charles (1825-1892)

Medium: Pencil on paper

Date: 1850

Shelfmark: WD546

Item number: 10

Length: 24

Width: 14.8

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Drawing

Pencil and wash drawing by Frederick Charles Maisey of a sculptured panel from the west gateway of the great stupa of Sanchi, from an album of 60 drawings dated 1847-1854.

Inscribed: 'Plate XXIV.' On back: 'Plate XXIV. Old Plate XXXV.'

This carved panel depicts a garlanded tree and altar surrounded by a group of whorshippers. The tree is a symbol of Buddha as early Buddhist art was aniconic. 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. The west gateway consists of square posts crowned by four pot-bellied dwarves which support three curved architraves with scrolled ends. These are completely covered with relief sculptures depicting Jatakas (stories of the Buddha's earlier incarnations) and scenes from the life of the historical Buddha and Buddhist symbols.

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