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painting / 繪畫

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1919,0101,0.45

  • Description

    Painting of Vaisravana, Guardian of the North, shown crossing the waters, floating on purple clouds. In one hand, a golden halberd; in the other, a purple cloud supporting a stupa with a seated Buddha inside. Flames come out of his shoulders. His retinue includes Śrī Devi, his sister, holding a golden dish of flowers, the sage Vasu and one of Vaisravana's sons. Garuḍa flies above. Ink and colours on silk.

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  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 9thC
  • Production place

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 37.6 centimetres
    • Width: 26.6 centimetres
  • Curator's comments

    This painting, on a small scale, is one of the most highly finished among all the paintings from Dunhuang and has been preserved together with a substantial part of its original mount of yellow and purple silk, extending for 8.5 cm above the painting and for 11.5 cm below. With Pl. 15 and another painting in the Musee Guimet, it represents a type otherwise only known through titles such as “The Heavenly King on the March” in records such as the catalogue of Emperor Huizong’s collection, Xuanhe huapu (A.D. 1120). Essentially the composition is intended to show Vaisravana patrolling his domain with heavenly troops; unlike the preceding plate, there is no building to represent a city, but otherwise the setting is similar.
    Vaisravana and his retinue are seen supported on a purple cloud, advancing across a sea of waves, bordered in the far distance by a range of mountains (Pl. 16-5). In this procession Vaisravana himself is the dominant figure, almost twice the size of his attendants. In his right hand he carries a golden halberd, in his left a purple cloud supporting a stupa, inside which there appears to be a seated Buddha. These attributes are immediately suggestive of his role as chief of the protectors of the Buddhist Law. Vivid plumes of flame, blown by the wind, issue from his shoulders. These, attested in the texts, correspond to the stiff crescents of flame seen in single standing figures of Vaisravana, as in Vol. 1, Fig. 109 (see the extensive discussion by Eiichi Matsumoto in Tonkoga no kenkyu, part 3, chapter 9). White ribbons flutter upwards on either side of the richly decorated crown (Pl. 16-2).
    In front of Vaisravana, also moving forwards but turning towards him, in graceful contrapposto, is Sri Devi, his sister, holding a shallow golden dish of flowers (Pl. 16-3). On the other side he is accompanied by the rishi Vasu, delicately portrayed as a white-haired old man in sandals, wearing a white cloth about his loins and holding a golden chalice (Pl. 16-4). Behind him is a stout figure in a green robe holding a flaming pearl. Matsumoto has identified him as one of the five sons of Vaisravana. Another figure, wearing a four-pronged crown stands on the left, with hands in anjali-mudra. As he is unarmed and without other attributes, he is very similar to the figure, apparently a donor, who appears in Pl. 15 holding a tablet and accompanied by his wife. Nevertheless, as he seems to be more closely integrated with the whole group, Matsumoto’s identification of him as another son of Vaisravana seems a better suggestion. Immediately behind him is a magnificent bearded figure in a splendid hat, fitting an arrow to his bow and preparing to shoot down the garuda figure who scuttles away in flight at the top right of the picture. Matsumoto has noted examples of similar garuda figures in wall paintings of Vaisravana in the Turfan area. They represent the forces of evil against which Vaisravana offered protection. The remaining figures in the painting are some of the five yaksa warriors who accompany the guardian king as described in several texts. The setting represents the park and stretch of water that are features of Vaisravana’s abode, to the north of Mt. Sumeru.
    Of great interest in connection with this small painting is the drawing P.5018 (1) in the Bibliotheque Nationale (Jao Tsong-yi, 1978, Pl.Ⅳ). Part of this appears to be a full-scale drawing of the silk painting. Although Jao Tsong-yi assumed that the right half of the drawing was missing, comparison with the Stein painting shows that in fact only the figure of Sri Devi has been lost. In all its detail, from the great figure of Vaisravana holding a stupa and a lance to the individual expressions of all those about him, this drawing corresponds exactly to the painting. For example, the garuda mask at his waist is identical, and the two bosses on his chest are even clearer as small faces. Practically the only differences in the drawing are the omission of the supporting cloud, of the water and distant landscape, and of the fleeing garuda. As in the silk painting, one member of Vaisravana’s retinue, wearing a faceted hat, scowls upwards, no doubt taking aim, though the bow is missing. The absence of the garuda, together with this implication of his presence, strongly suggests that the drawing is more in the nature of a sketch copy of the painting than a preparatory cartoon for it. This impression is confirmed when we look at a second composition placed adjacent to the first on the same sheet, and at right angles to it: this shows Vaisravana kneeling and offering a stupa, and must have been copied from another painting.Zwalf 1985

    Vaiśravaṇa, Guardian King of the North, in splendid armour, patrols his domain with heavenly troops on a purple cloud advancing across a sea of waves. His attributes, a golden halberd and a purple cloud supporting a ‘stūpa’ with a seated Buddha inside, immediately suggest his role as chief protector of the Buddhist Doctrine. In front is Śri Devi, his sister, holding a golden dish of flowers. On the other side the ‘ṛṣi’ Vasu is portrayed as a white-haired old man. One of Vaiśravaṇa's attendants takes aim at a fleeing demon in the sky.此作品規模雖小,但在敦煌出土的繪畫類中是最精細的作品之一,包括繪畫上下方各留8.0釐米、11.5釐米寬的黃色和紫色裝裱部分,整個作品保存狀態良好。和上一圖(圖15)以及集美美術館收藏的《行道天王圖》,都可作爲一種資料,由此想象出徽宗皇帝收藏品目錄《宣和畫譜》(1120年)等中,只有題名的這一類繪畫的圖樣。圖樣表現的是毘沙門天在天界軍隊的陪同下,巡查自己守護的領地。與上一圖不同的是,這裏沒有代表城郭的建築物,其餘場面設計基本相同。
    毘沙門天和侍從乘赤紫色雲,橫渡波浪起伏的海面,水平線的另一岸有連綿的山脈(參照圖16-5)。高大的毘沙門天像有侍從们的兩倍,右手持鉾槍,從左手騰起的赤紫色雲上載著寶塔,寶塔中有坐佛。這些所持物品暗示著佛法守護神毘沙門天的作用。由兩肩升起的鮮豔火焰,被風吹的向後飄伏。這與第1卷Fig.109的《兜跋毘沙門天像》中出現的僵直的三日月形火焰相同,是根據經典裏描繪的(詳情參照松本榮一『敦煌畫の研究』第3章第9節)。配有華麗裝飾的冠的兩側,有白色的緞帶隨風飄動(參照圖16-2)。
    毘沙門天的前面,有舉止優雅,向同一方行進卻回頭看他的妹妹功德天,手捧盛滿花的金色盤。其對面的婆藪仙,以手持金杯,纏白腰布,腳穿靴的白髮老人的形象出現(參照圖16-4)。其後有身著綠衣,手持火焰寶珠的健壯的像。松本榮一博士認爲該像是毘沙門天五個兒子之一。左方也有一身合掌的像,頭戴頂部分成四塊的冠。他沒有武裝,也沒有攜帶物品,認爲與上一圖的手持笏陪同夫人的供養人像相同。但在本圖中,其像與整體非常協調,正如松本博士所提議的,看作是毘沙門天的一個兒子更爲貼切。離他很近的後方,有一長著美麗的鬍鬚,頭戴奇特帽子的像,拉開弓箭的架式,像是要射向畫面右上角慌忙飛過的迦樓羅。松本博士指出,繪有毘沙門天的吐魯番地區的壁畫中,有几處相同的迦樓羅的影子,它象徵用毘沙門天的力量可趕走的惡勢力。此畫的其他諸像,正如松本博士所述,著於若干經典中,是天王侍從五夜叉中的四像。場面設置是毘沙門天所守護的須彌山北方。
    與這小作品有關連的非常有趣味的作品中,還有巴黎國立圖書館藏白描畫(參照P.5018(1):饒宗頤《敦煌白畫》圖版4)。那畫的一半,看似此圖的草稿,饒教授認爲其右半部分已缺失,但與斯坦因收集的此作品做比較則發現,其實只缺少功德天像。那白描畫和本圖的絹繪,從手持寶塔和槍的毘沙門天到簇擁他的眷屬,都可以一一對照。但細部的表現也略見不同,如腹部的獅頭大致相同,但胸部隆起的小型人面在白描畫中更爲明顯。兩者間大的差別,在於白描畫中省略了乘雲、水波、遠方的山水、飛的迦樓羅等。而毘沙門天的侍從中,頭戴多面體帽子的男性,缺弓的部分,但臉部的描繪卻與此絹繪仰頭瞄準上方的姿態相同。這裏雖然沒有描繪迦樓羅,但其表現反映了它的存在。所以,比起將此白描畫作爲草圖重新描繪的說法來,根據其他繪畫模寫的感覺則更強烈。如果再看一件接近的同樣紙描繪的圖案,則更能確定這種印象。毘沙門天跪著捧塔的形象,無疑是模寫其他作品。

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  • Bibliography

    • Zwalf 1985 319 bibliographic details
    • Whitfield & Farrer 1990 cat.no.9 bibliographic details
    • Fraser 1996a fig.111 bibliographic details
    • Fraser 2000 p.200 bibliographic details
    • Whitfield 1983 pl.16 bibliographic details
    • Whitfield 2004b pl.94 bibliographic details
    • Stein 1921b pl.LXXII bibliographic details
    • Stein 1921a pp.942-943; pl.LXXII 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

    1919,0101,0.45

  • Additional IDs

    • Ch.0018 (Stein no.)
Front
Painting of Vaisravana, Guardian of the North, shown crossing the waters, floating on purple clouds.  In one hand, a golden halberd;  in the other, a purple cloud supporting a stupa with a seated Buddha inside.  Flames come out of his shoulders.  His retinue includes Sri Devi, his sister, holding a golden dish of flowers, the sage Vasu and one of Vaisravana's sons. A garuda flies above. Ink and colours on silk.

Front Painting of Vaisravana, Guardian of the North, shown crossing the waters, floating on purple clouds. In one hand, a golden halberd; in the other, a purple cloud supporting a stupa with a seated Buddha inside. Flames come out of his shoulders. His retinue includes Sri Devi, his sister, holding a golden dish of flowers, the sage Vasu and one of Vaisravana's sons. A garuda flies above. Ink and colours on silk.

Image description

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