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painting / 繪畫

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1919,0101,0.3

  • Description

    Painted composition of two standing Avalokiteśvara figures facing each other, the one on the left holding a flower, the one on the right with a vase. Otherwise, they are in nearly identical mirror-reverse, as are the inscriptions, both of which begin in the middle of the cartouche and refer to Tibetan control of Dunhuang. Ink and colours on silk.

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  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 781-847 ((probably) during period of Tibetan control of Dunhuang)
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 147.3 centimetres
    • Width: 105.3 centimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

        inscription
      • Inscription Position

        in cartouche
      • Inscription Language

        Chinese
      • Inscription Translation

        Central four lines of the inscription consist of the same two-line text, repeated to read from either side. It states that the painting was made by "...the disciple of pure faith,Yiwen, on his own behalf, having fallen [into the hands of the Tibetans], that he return to his birthplace." Later, the original inscription was extended to the left and right, with additions in which other persons claim credit for the painting and apply its benefits to their deceased parents.
  • Curator's comments

    This painting is one of the grandest of those attesting the popularity of Avalokitesvara with individual devotees at Dunhuang. In iconography it is very similar to Pl.13, but with two figures of the Bodhisattva instead of one alone. In addition, the inscription gives us clear details of the wishes of those who had this painting made. It is placed in the very centre of the painting, between the two Bodhisattvas who face each other in virtual mirror-reverse. In fact, the inscription itself (see below) is also so divided, and consists of two inscriptions, each starting from the middle (Fig.75). The top of both is damaged so that a character or two is missing from the top of every line. In addition, a small piece from the top right half of the inscription has been mounted at the top left. Nevertheless, most of the wording can be made out, as follows, beginning with the right half and starting from the centre:
    Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva. The disciple of pure faith, Yiwen, on his own behalf, having fallen [into the hands of the Tibetans], that he may return to his birthplace, made and dedicated with undivided heart...-you and the female disciple Juehui toehui together made an Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva first that her deceased father and mother may be reborn in the Pure Land ...[may escape] the Three Ways and be granted birth in the Pure Country and soon ascend to the World of Buddha, dedicated with undivided heart.
    The left half of the inscription, in five lines beginning again from the centre, reads in similar fashion:
    □□三塗承生淨國早(早)登佛杲(界)一心供養
    □□憂婆姨覺惠同修觀世音菩蕯一爲先亡父母神生淨土
    □番□得歸鄉敬造一心供養
    □觀世音菩蕯清信弟子溫義溫爲己身落
    □觀□世□音□菩□蕯清信弟子□義溫爲己身落
    □番□得□歸鄉敬造一心供養
    □□永安寺老宿慈力發心敬畫觀世音菩蕯爲過往父
    □□三早過佛界一心供養 信弟子男永安寺律師義
    □溫一心供養 信弟子兼技術子弟董文員一心供養
    [Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva]. The disciple of pure faith [Yi] wen on his own behalf, having fallen [into the hands of the Tibetans] that he may return home, made and dedicated with undivided heart. Cili, elder of the Yong’an temple, piously and reverently painted Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, on behalf of his departed father ...three, that he may soon pass into Buddha’s world, dedicated with undivided heart. The disciple of faith and son Yiwen, master of the Vinaya in the Yong’an temple, dedicated with undivided heart. The believer and performer Dong Wenhai dedicated with undivided heart.
    In spite of the difficulties caused by the misalignment of part of the inscription and the missing characters, some facts emerge fairly clearly from it. Each of the two Bodhisattvas has a separate dedication, and in each case this seems to be divided, with two lines of larger characters first, followed on the right by two lines and on the left by three lines of smaller characters. We may perhaps take it that the chief donor and the principal wishes are recorded in the larger characters, and that other associate donors and their wishes are recorded in the additional lines to the right and left. The wording of the main inscriptions is then practically identical; and the donor in each case seems to be the same person. According to Professor Fujieda (personal communication ) the character “luo”(fallen) seems in each case to invite completion with the character “fan”, as in other inscriptions in the caves themselves, referring to the Tibetan control of this district, and the principal wish is undoubtedly the very Chinese one of a desire to return home. This seems to take precedence over the remaining wishes expressed on behalf of deceased parents, that they may escape rebirth in the Three Evil Ways (as animals, demons, or hungry ghosts) and may instead be reborn in the Pure Land or in the World of the Buddha.
    According to Professor Fujieda’s theory, this would mean that the painting could be dated with some certainty to the period from A.D.781 to 847, before the restoration of Chinese control. This also seems possible from the point of view of style. The two Bodhisattvas, each in three-quarter view, mirror each other to the extent that, save for details such as the shape of the nose, they are distinguished only by their attributes and by the colour of the stoles that cover their shoulders. The figures are both solidly planted on their lotus pedestals, with rather large feet, their bodies swaying very slightly forward at the waist. The depiction is characterized by great precision of brushwork in the fine ink outlines of the main features, with schematic colour shading for the exposed areas of flesh .There are close resemblances to the single depiction of Avalokitesvara of Pl.13, but it could be suggested that Stein painting 3 is slightly later, since the ribands hang more stiffly and the lines of the faces appear also somewhat harder.
    Although the painting shows two figures side by side, and might therefore have been expected to be made up also of two widths of silk, this is not in fact the case. There is a broken area right down the centre of the painting due to folding, but the method of assembly is precisely the same as that of other paintings of the same size, with a full width of silk in the centre, onto which are sewn two half-widths. The left figure has been mounted somewhat too high and the hands would originally have been directly opposite each other: a touch of yellow and two leaves from the flower held by the left figure can be seen on the right and indicate its correct position.此畫是說明觀音信仰在敦煌佛教徒間盛行的代表作之一。此圖與圖13的觀世音菩薩像極其相近,只是在這裏不是一身,而是兩身。并且有願文,明確表达了捐献此畫的人們的祈願。願文在繪畫中心,在面對面像是照鏡子的兩身菩薩中間的位置上。願文(見下)本身分兩部分,分別從中間行開始書寫(參見Fig.75)。上部的絹子有些損壞,每行上部的一個字均已丟失,第二個字也有缺損。左側上端所見的小斷片,原應是右側上部的願文。不過,大部分文字還可以讀出。
    右半願文的大意如下:
    清信弟子溫義,雖然落入吐蕃手,但爲了自身能歸鄉,敬造觀世音菩薩,一心供養。……
    優婆姨覺惠也修造觀世音,第一是爲了亡父母能轉生於淨土,……(可能脫落)三道接受轉生淨國,爲提早進入佛界,一心供養。

    左半的願文,也是從中間行開始書寫,概括在五行裏。
    清信弟子義溫,雖然落入吐蕃手,但爲了自身能歸鄉,敬造觀世音菩薩,一心供養。……
    永安寺的老宿慈力爲了亡父發心敬畫觀世音菩薩。……(三)爲了提早入佛界一心供養。
    作爲信徒和兒子的永安寺律師義溫……一心供養。信徒兼伎術子弟的董文員一心供養。

    題記行款不齊,況且文字缺損,很難解讀,但通過以上詞句,可以明確幾個事實。二身菩薩各持有奉獻名,無論哪一段,前二行的字都是大的,隨後接下來的右側的二行和左側的三行是用小字記錄的。可以看出,大字記錄的主要供養人名及其祈願,而輔助的供養人及其祈願則在左右,是次要記錄。主要的願文寫的全都相同,供養人(右半的是溫義,左半的是義溫)也是同一人。據藤枝晃教授指教,“落”字,與此地區在吐蕃統治時期各石窟所見到的題記一樣,兩處均與“番”連用。出於當時中原人情感中不可動搖的“歸故鄉”的願望,歸鄉在祈願文中作爲主要的記錄,優先於亡父母不轉生三道(畜生道、羅刹道、餓鬼道)而生淨土的供養話語。
    根據藤枝晃教授的觀點,此畫應是唐朝恢復對敦煌的統治權以前,即781年至847年間製作的。這點也可從圖畫的形式來推斷。七三開結構的二身菩薩,除了鼻子形狀等細部的表現外,只有手持物和肩上的天衣顔色不同,其餘表現都是像照鏡子一樣面對面對稱的姿態。二身像的腳均稍大,穩穩踏在蓮瓣上,腰部稍扭向前。在描法上,皮膚所使用的暈染技法和顔面細部細墨線的精密描寫都非常顯眼,與圖13的觀世音菩薩像非常相似。頭部飾帶的線條顯得有些呆板,臉部線描也有幾分僵化,所以本圖的菩薩時代稍晚。
    從並列的二身像上看,雖然可能會並排使用兩幅絹子,但實際情況不是。畫面中央是折疊導致的破損;絹子的縫合使用的是和其他同尺寸的絹繪完全一樣的縫合方法,即畫面中央用了一幅絹子,其左右各綴接了半幅絹。圖畫在粘裱時左邊像被貼在稍微高的位置上,本來雙方的手應並排在同一高度:左邊像手持黃色花和兩片葉子這一細節,在右邊有相應的部分,指示了它原來應在的位置。

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  • Bibliography

    • Whitfield & Farrer 1990 cat.no.7 bibliographic details
    • Stein 1921a p.1043 bibliographic details
    • Whitfield 1982 pl.24, fig.75 bibliographic details
    • Stein 1921b pl.XV bibliographic details
  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1919

  • Acquisition notes

    For full acquisition history, see 1919,0101,0.1.

  • Department

    Asia

  • Registration number

    1919,0101,0.3

  • Additional IDs

    • Ch.xxxviii.005 (Stein no.)
Front
Very grand, finely painted composition of two standing Avalokitesvara figures facing each other, the one on the left holding a flower, the one on the right with a vase. Otherwise, they are in nearly identical mirror-reverse, as are the inscriptions, both of which begin in the middle of the cartouche and refer to Tibetan control of Dunhuang. Ink and colours on silk.

Front Very grand, finely painted composition of two standing Avalokitesvara figures facing each other, the one on the left holding a flower, the one on the right with a vase. Otherwise, they are in nearly identical mirror-reverse, as are the inscriptions, both of which begin in the middle of the cartouche and refer to Tibetan control of Dunhuang. Ink and colours on silk.

Image description

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