South gate, Sanchi. Unfinished drawing of capital supporting east end of lower architrave
Artist: Maisey, Frederick Charles (1825-1892)
Medium: Pencil on paper
Pencil drawing of the capital supporting the east end of the lower architrave of the south gateway of the stupa of Sanchi, by Frederick Charles Maisey, dated 1847-1854.
The four magnificent gateways or toranas of the stupa (a Buddhist monument consisting of a domed-shaped mound often containing sacred relics) consist of square posts, each 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 two of the four lions seated back to back that crown the post of the south gateway. 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.