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Carvings on the north gate of Sanchi Stupa, front face of the left pillar

Carvings on the north gate of Sanchi Stupa, front face of the left pillar

Artist: Maisey, Frederick Charles (1825-1892)

Medium: Pencil on paper

Date: 1850

Shelfmark: WD4485

Item number: 4485

Length: 49.5

Width: 31.1

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Drawing

Pencil and wash drawing on yellow card of the carvings on the front face of the left pillar of the north gateway of the Stupa of Sanchi. Inscribed: 'PLATE V. See Plate VI fig.1. See Plate VI fig.2. See Plate VIII. See Plate VII fig.1.' Verso: 'Old Plate V. New Plate V. 67th Regt.' Reproduced in Maisey, F.C. 'Sanchi and its Remains' (London, 1892, plate V) and in Fergusson, J. 'Tree and Serpent Worship' (London,1873, p.114, 17; plate XXVIII, fig.2).

The four magnificent gateways or toranas of the stupa (a Buddhist monument consisting of a domed-shaped mound often containing sacred relics) of Sanchi were added to that monument during the first century BC. They consist of square posts, crowned with a set of four lions, elephants or pot-bellied dwarfs, supporting three curved architraves with scrolled ends. They are completely covered with relief sculptures depicting Jatakas (stories of the Buddha's earlier incarnations), scenes from the life of the historical Buddha, and Buddhist symbols. The panels in the middle of this drawing depicts the scenes carved on the front face of the left post of the north gateway. They illustrate, from top to bottom: Buddha teaching at Sravasti; Buddha in Jetavana grove; the miracle of Sravasti. The panels to the right in this drawing depict the scenes carved on the west face of the east pillar of the torana and depict, from top to bottom: the worship of Buddha in Venuvana and a 'dvarapala' or guardian figure. The panel to the left in the drawing represents the floral motifs and Buddhist symbols carved on the east face of the east pillar of the gateway. The footprints within the wheel are an iconic sympbol of Buddha.
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 when the four elaborately carved

gateways were added at the cardinal points.

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