Details of Stupa no.2, Sanchi 3594
Artist: Maisey, Frederick Charles (1825-1892)
Medium: Pen and ink on paper
Pen and ink and wash drawing of details of Stupa no.2 at Sanchi, by Frederick Charles Maisey, dated 1857-1854, inscribed: 'Plate XXX', with notes.
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 result of his work was published in 'Sanchi and its remains' of 1892, illustrated by reproductions of his own drawings. The Buddhist site of Sanchi is of outstanding importance for the number and variety of its monuments and sculptures. The numerous preserved Buddhist structures, mostly stupas, were built between the third century BC and the sixth to seventh centuries AD.
The foundations of this monastic centre were laid by the emperor Ashoka (reigned circa 269-232 BC) who built the original Stupa 1 and erected a monolithic pillar in the third century BC near the south gateway. Stupa 2 stands on the western slope of the hill and dates from the second century BC. It was found entire by Captain Fell in 1819 but was later partly destroyed by various archaeologists. The stupa consists of a plain hemispherical dome with no gateways and external decorations, differently from Stupa 1 and Stupa 3. The processional pathway is accessed through four L-shaped entrances as it can be seen in the plan in this drawing. The balustrades are elaborately carved with floral designs, real and mythical animals, human figures and semi-divine beings. This drawing illustrates the details of a post which is carved with medallions containing a lotus, a 'naga' or serpent, and a composite animal. Another detail shows a medallion carved with a female figure riding on a centaur. The importance of this stupa lies in the fact that it contained relics of several Buddhist teachers contained in caskets buried in the solid mass of the stupa.