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

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

Artist: Maisey, Frederick Charles (1825-1892)

Medium: Pencil on paper

Date: 1850

Shelfmark: WD3589

Item number: 3589

Genre: Drawing

Pencil drawing by Frederick Charles Maisey, dated 1847-1854, of part of the scene of the Buddha's sermon at Sarnath. This scene is carved at the centre of the middle section of on the front of the architrave of the West gateway of the Stupa of Sanchi. This is a working drawing for the final plate XXVI 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 Govenment report of the antiquities of the site. He was joined by Major Alexander Cunningham in 1851. 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 circa 269-232 BC) 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. These consist of square posts supporting three curved architraves with scrolled ends. Their surfaces are decorated with relief sculptures depicting Jatakas (stories of the Buddha's earlier incarnations), scenes from the life of the historical Buddha, and Buddhist symbols.

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