painting / 繪畫
Painting of the Tejaprabha Buddha (Buddha of the Blazing Lights), shown seated on a chariot with the Five Planets represented by female and male figures with their respective attributes (from left clockwise): Jupiter as an official, Mercury as a lady holding a brush, Mars as a four-armed warrior demon, Venus playing the pipa and Saturn as an aged Indian attending to the bull pulling the cart. Dated by inscription. Ink and colours on silk.
- Excavated/Findspot: Qian Fo Dong, Ch.liv.007 (from bundle Ch.liv at Cave 17 at Ch’ien Fo Tung (pinyin: Qian Fo Dong))
- (Asia,China,Gansu (province),Dunhuang,Qian Fo Dong (Caves of the Thousand Buddhas))
- Excavated/Findspot: 千佛洞
- Height: 80.4 centimetres
- Width: 55.4 centimetres
Inscription Positionin cartouche
Inscription TransliterationChishengguangfo bing wu xing ? Qianning si nian zheng yue ba ri jiu? Dizi Zhang ?xing huabiao.
Inscription TranslationTejaprabha Buddha and the five planets, in the 4th year of Qianning (A.D.897). Zhang the ninth brother had it painted.
This is a happy instance where the painting is not only dated, but also represents one of the rarest of the subjects of Buddhist art. The title, “The Buddha of Blazing Light and the Deities of the Five Planets”, is given in the donor’s inscription, as well as the date (Fig.80). Although various literary references to Tejaprabha Buddha accompanied by nine or eleven luminaries are known, only three actual paintings survive: this one, a painting on the south wall of the entrance corridor leading to Cave 61 at Dunhuang itself and a hanging scroll of the Yuan period in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (Tomita and Tseng, 1961, Pl.21). Cave 61 may be dated to the early Northern Sung period, soon after the middle of the tenth century. It is well known for its magnificent series of donors, including a princess of Khotan, and for its paintings of Wutaishan as well as numerous paradise assemblies. The multiple images of Buddha on its ceiling are closely related to stencils preserved in the Stein collection (Vol.2, Pl.78). The paintings in the corridor, according to Stein, are by a hand far more skilled in composition and drawing than that which executed the present silk painting. Nevertheless, with its earlier date, and because of the rarity of the subject, this is still a very important work.
The composition is considerably simpler than that of the wall painting, not to mention the one in Boston, and is confined to the principal figures of the Buddha and of the five planets only, all supported on the same multi-coloured clouds. Rays of light radiate from the Buddha, symbolizing his power to subdue adverse influences from the planets. Eiichi Matsumoto (1937, pp.338ff) has shown how the figures of the latter correspond almost exactly with the descriptions of them in the Fan tian huo luo jiu yao 梵天火羅九曜.Proceeding anticlockwise from Tejaprabha himself, who is seated on a cart drawn by an ox advancing to the left (in the entrance corridor of Cave 61, the whole composition suitably takes the form of an extended procession), these planetary figures are described in the text as follows: Mercury, as a woman with a monkey in her headdress, holding brush and paper (Pl. 27-2); Jupiter, as a high official, with blue robes and a boar headdress, holding flowers and fruit (Fig. 79); Saturn as a Brahman, with an ox headdress, holding a pewter staff (Pl.27-4); Venus, with a cock in her headdress, in white mourning robes, playing a stringed instrument (pipa)(Pl.27-5); and finally Mars, shown as a heretic, with donkey headdress, four-armed and carrying weapons and blades (arrow, bow, sword and trident) (Fig.81).The wall painting is damaged but clearly included are these five, with the sun and moon and the two dark stars Rahu and Ketu taken from Indian astronomy, for a total of nine luminaries. In addition, groups of figures representing the twenty-eight constellations appear above the procession, and also small circular medallions, originally twelve in number, within each of which is depicted one of the Western signs of the zodiac.
An elaborate set of altar vessels drawn in ink and originally richly gilt, is displayed on an altar at the front of the cart, with a valance and an embroidered cloth falling over the ox in the shafts. The face of the Buddha and other exposed areas of his body were originally also gilt. The gilding on the face shows clear signs of having been renewed, and the ink lines of his countenance have also been redrawn, being much darker than those of the other figures, and giving him a more fully fleshed countenance. It is very noticeable that the mouthline ends in a distinct hook, after the fashion of the tenth century (Pl.27-3); in the other figures this line is straight or ends in a slight swelling. It thus seems more than likely that the painting was refurbished at some time in the first half of the tenth century. At the top of the painting, a broad strip of purple silk shows that it was once mounted as a hanging scroll. Although this strip is sadly now only 11.5 cm high, when described by Stein in Serindia it measured 2 ft 61/2 in, or about 75 cm. when found it had already lost the lower mount; nevertheless, it must originally have been an impressive picture and was perhaps actually intended to be carried in procession, as the treatment of the subject itself seems to imply.此圖不僅有紀年，以主題來説中也是佛教美術中最珍稀的作品之一，是難得的範例。“熾盛光佛並五星”這一畫題與紀年同時記錄在供養題記中（參見Fig.80）。經典中有種種有關伴隨九曜和十一曜的熾盛光佛的記載，但繪畫實際只存有以下三件，即本絹繪、敦煌第61窟洞口南壁的壁畫及波士頓美術館藏元代的挂幅（參照K.Tomita and H.C.Tseng:Portfolio of Chinese Paintings圖版21）。從于闐公主等華麗的供養人隊伍，以及由衆多聖衆構成的淨土圖和五臺山的描繪等知道，敦煌61窟的壁畫是北宋初期，即10世紀中葉稍後製作的。而繪於天井上的諸多如來像與此收藏品中收的紙樣（參照第2卷圖78）有密切關係。據斯坦因講，無論是構圖還是線繪，壁畫都比本圖熟練。但是，此畫年代早，主題罕見，是很珍貴的作品。
1990 20 Oct-9 Dec, Japan, Tokyo, Setagaya Art Museum, Treasures of the British Museum, cat. no.159
1991 5 Jan-20 Feb, Japan, Yamaguchi, Prefectural Museum of Art, Treasures of the British Museum, cat. no.159
1991 9 Mar-7 May, Japan, Osaka, National Museum of Art, Treasures of the British Museum, cat. no.159
PROMISED for an exhibition in the USA in 2015
2016 – 2017, Germany, PROMISED
For full acquisition history, see 1919,0101,0.1.
- Ch.liv.007 (Stein no.)
Front Painting of the Tejaprabha Buddha (trans: Buddha of the Blazing Lights), shown seated on a chariot with the Five Planets represented by female and male figures with their respective attributes: (from left clockwise) Jupiter as an official, Mercury as a lady holding a brush, Mars as a four-armed warrior demon, Venus playing the pipa and Saturn as an aged Indian attending to the bull pulling the cart. Dated by inscription. Ink and colours on silk.
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Object reference number: RFC636
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