South gate, Sanchi. Middle section of bottom architrave on back of South gate.
Artist: Maisey, Frederick Charles (1825-1892)
Medium: Pencil on paper
Drawing in pencil and wash heightened with white of the middle section of the bottom architrave on the back of the South Gateway of Sanchi, by Frederick Charles Maisey, inscribed:' plate XX'.
The carved panel reproduced in this drawing depicts the War over the Buddha's relics. In the centre of the architrave, the siege of Kusinagara is in progress; to the right and to the left, the victorious chiefs are departing in chariots on elephants carrying the relics. The great Stupa of Sanchi is the finest example of monumental architecture of the Shunga era. It was first discovered in ruined conditions in 1819 and reconstructed at the beginning of the 20th century. 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 the first century BC under the Shungas. A processional path at the ground level is surrounded by a balustrade with posts and railings with four elaborately carved gateways (toranas) at the cardinal points. These toranas are completely covered of sculptures depicting various episodes of the life of Buddha Sakhyamuni, who is represented aniconically.