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Cave 1, Narrative Panels on the Friezes on Facade

Cave 1, Narrative Panels on the Friezes on Facade

Draughtsman: Gill, Robert (c.1824-1875)

Medium: Pen and ink on paper

Date: 1850

Shelfmark: WD1092

Item number: f.28

Length: 67.5

Width: 48.2

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Topographical Drawing

Pen-and-ink drawing of the narrative panels on 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. The cave consists of a verandah with cells and porches at the ends and three doorways leading into the hall. This drawing depicts the friezes carved above the verandah which depict elephant fights, hunting expeditions and amorous scenes. Inside the hall there are twenty elaborate columns 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.

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