Cave 1, Details of Pillars f.34
Draughtsman: Gill, Robert (c.1824-1875)
Medium: Pencil and ink on paper
Pencil drawing of pillars from 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, excavated in the late fifth century, is one of the finest monastery of Ajanta. One of the most striking element of this, and most of the other caves, are the imposing pillars that support the wide ceilings. This drawing depicts three types of pillars found in the cave. They have a square base; the shafts are octagonal at the beginning and then become fluted and are richly carved with floral bands, monsters' faces with jewelled motifs. The capitals consist of compressed amalaka fruits, two of them with figures of dwarfs or ghanas that support a square abacus. The brackets are carved with flying couples and figures riding lions, flanking a compartment with figures adorating a stupa and deers. The cave is renowned for the magnificent painting it has preserved on its walls depicting scenes from the previous lives of Buddha as narrated in the Jatakas.