South gate, Sanchi. Upper panels on east face
Artist: Maisey, Frederick Charles (1825-1892)
Medium: Pencil on paper
Pencil drawing by Frederick Charles Maisey of the upper panels on the east face of the South gate of the Supa of Sanchi, dated 1847-1854, inscribed: 'plate XXVI. Inscrip 189, Cunningham p.264 Bhilsa tope' and 'Plate XVIII'.
The four magnificent gateways or toranas of the stupa (a Buddhist monument consisting of a domed-shaped mound often containing sacred relics) of Sanchi consist of square posts, crowned with a set of four lions, elephants or pot-bellied dwarfs, supporting three curved architraves with scrolled ends. They are completely covered with relief sculptures depicting Jatakas (stories of the Buddha's earlier incarnations), scenes from the life of the historical Buddha and Buddhist symbols. This drawing depicts the three panels carved on the inside of the left post of the south gateway. The scenes illustrate, from top to bottom: a temple with an altar built around a bodhi tree, Ashoka and his retinue and deities paying omage to Buddha's hair. The great Stupa of Sanchi is the finest example of monumental architecture of the Shunga era. It consists of a large hemispherical dome which was built over an already existing stupa ascribed to the 3rd century BC from the time of the Buddhist emperor Ashoka Maurya (reigned circa 269-232 BC). The stupa was later enlarged around the1st century BC under the Shungas when the four elaborately carved gateways were added at the cardinal points. This drawing shows the upper panels on the east face of the southern gateway.