Carved panel from the west gate of Sanchi Stupa, inner face of the left pillar
Artist: Maisey, Frederick Charles (1825-1892)
Medium: Pen and ink on tracing paper
Ink sketch on tracing paper by Frederick Charles Maisey of the carved panel on the inner face of the west pillar of the West Gate of the Stupa of Sanchi. Inscribed: 'XXXVI' (in black ink), 'XXIV' (in red ink). Reproduced in Maisey, F.C. 'Sanchi and its Remains' (London, 1892, plate XXIV) and in Fergusson, J. 'Tree and Serpent Worship' (London,1873, plate XXVII, 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. This drawing represents the panel carved on the west gateway. The scene represents worshippers performing the ceremony of circumambulation around a bodhi tree with an altar. The parasoled tree is the aniconic representation 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.