Working drawing of the dwarf capital on the West gate South end of lower architrave, [Sanchi stupa]
Artist: Maisey, Frederick Charles (1825-1892)
Medium: Pencil on paper
Pencil drawing by Frederick Charles Maisey, dated 1847-1854, of the figures of yakshas or dwarfs carved on the capital on the south end of the lower architrave of the West gateway of the Stupa of Sanchi.
This is a working drawing for the final plate XXV published in Maisey's 'Sanchi and its Remains' of 1892. Lieutenant Maisey spent the cold seasons of 1849-50 and 1850-51 at Sanchi to prepare an illustrated Government report of the antiquities of the site. He was joined by Major Alexander Cunningham in 1851.
The Western gateway of the main stupa at Sanchi consists of two square posts crowned with a group of four pot bellied dwarfs called 'yakshas'. These support a triple architrave with scrolled ends. The posts and the gateways are completely covered with sculptures depicting various episodes from the Jatakas, the stories about Buddha's previous incarnations. In these scenes the Buddha is represented aniconically with footprints, an umbrella or other non-figural symbols. The great Stupa of Sanchi is the finest example of monumental architecture of the Shunga era. Situated in a peaceful and meditative site crowning a hilltop, Sanchi was ideally located in proximity to the prosperous city of Vidisha. The foundation of this monastic centre were laid by the emperor Ashoka (reigned 269-232 BC ca.) who built the original stupa and erected a monolithic pillar in the third century BC. The stupa was later enlarged and encased in stone around the1st century BC under the Shungas and four magnificent gateways or toranas were added at the cardinal points.