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West gate, Sanchi. Centre of middle section of architrave on front.

West gate, Sanchi. Centre of middle section of architrave on front.

Artist: Maisey, Frederick Charles (1825-1892)

Medium: Wash

Date: 1850

Shelfmark: WD3588

Item number: 3588

Genre: Drawing

Wash drawing heightened with white by Frederick Charles Maisey of the centre of the front face of the middle architrave of the West gateway of Sanchi, inscribed: 'Plate XXVI'.

The scene depicted in this drawing shows the sermon at Sarnath in the deer park. At this site, Buddha preached his first sermon known as 'Turning the Wheel of the Law'. Buddha is represented aniconically by the wheel of the law. 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 the 1st century BC under the Shungas and four elaborately carved gateways were added at the cardinal points. The Western gateway 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 of sculptures depicting various episodes from the Jatakas, the stories about Buddha's previous incarnations.

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