Cave 1, Friezes on Facade
Draughtsman: Gill, Robert (c.1824-1875)
Medium: Pen and ink on paper
Pen-and-ink drawing of the friezes on the facade of Cave 1 at Ajanta from an Album of 26 ground plans of the Ajanta caves and 16 folios of drawings of sculpture and architectural details in the Ajanta caves, by Capt. R. Gill, dated c.1850.
The magnificent cave temples of Ajanta are situated in a horse-shoe valley of the Waghora river in West India and consist of prayer halls (chaityas) and monasteries (viharas), built for the Buddhist community who lived there. The first group was excavated between the second - first centuries BC; then, after a period of more than six centuries, the excavations restarted around the fifth century AD, in the Vakataka period. Cave 1 is a very fine monastery from the late fifth century. This drawing depicts the motif of gavaksha, small horse-shoe shaped windows with a figure inside and birds with foliated tails carved on the facade of the verandah of the cave. The verandah has cells and porches at the ends and three doorways leading into the hall. Here twenty elaborate columns are arranged in a square. The columns shafts are carved with bands of jewelled ornaments and medallions adorned with scrollwork. The cushion-like capital supports a square abacus with a group of carved figures and on the brackets there are flying figures. The doorways are decorated with amorous couples, maidens and naga deities. Within the sanctuary a large seated Buddha is carved in high relief. The frescos that decorate the walls of the cave are among the finest at Ajanta.