Ornament carved the Stupa of Sanchi
Artist: Maisey, Frederick Charles (1825-1892)
Medium: Pencil on paper
Pencil drawing by Frederick Charles Maisey of an ornament carved on the north gateway of great Stupa of Sanchi, taken from an album of 60 drawings dated 1847-1854.
The great Stupa of Sanchi, Stupa 1, is the finest example of monumental architecture of the Shunga era. Its core is believed to date from the reign of Ashoka in the 3rd century BC. The original brick stupa was one of the numerous stupas that Ashoka built in his kingdom to enshrine the bodily remains of the Buddha. In 150 BC the Stupa was enlarged and encased in stone and around 50 BC it was embellished with four monumental gates (toranas). These consist of square pillars supporting three curved architraves, completely covered with magnificent reliefs depicting jatakas (stories of Buddha's earlier incarnations) as well as stories from the historical Buddha and various auspicious symbols. This drawing represents what Maisey defined the 'disc-and-crescent symbol' which consists of a wheel (chakra), a solar symbol, surmounted by a trident (trishula), symbolising the 'three precious jewels' of Buddhism, Buddha, Dharma, Samgha.