Details of pillars, Sanchi
Artist: Maisey, Frederick Charles (1825-1892)
Medium: Pen and ink on paper
Pen and ink and wash drawing by Frederick Charles Maisey of details of pillars from Sanchi, inscribed: 'Plate XXXIII', with notes, dated 1847-1854.
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 as it has preserved numerous Buddhist structures, mostly stupas, built between the third century BC and the sixth to seventh centuries AD.
The foundation 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. The stupa was later enlarged and encased in stone around the 1st century BC under the Shungas and four magnificently carved gateways called toranas were added at the cardinal points. This drawing depicts the reconstructed appearance of the free-standing columns erected near the stupa gateways. These are from left to right in this drawing: the pillar north-east of the stupa; Column 35 which had as its capital a figure of Vajrapani; the column with a lion capital used to stand near the east entrance; the column with a fluted capital surmounted by a square abacus carved with seated lions from the portico of Temple 17, Gupta period; a pillar from the chaitya hall opposite the south entrance of the stupa; Column 10, erected by Ashoka near the south gateway of the stupa. The column was surmounted by a capital sculptured with four lions as can be seen in its reconstructed appearance to the right in this drawing.