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painting / 繪畫

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1919,0101,0.62

  • Description

    Fragmentary painting with part of the story of the contest between Śāriputra, Buddha's disciple, and the heretic leader, Raudraksa. The top episode shows an elephant, created by Śāriputra, drinking dry the pool Raudraksa magically made. The bottom episode shows Raudraksa falling back in final defeat. The landscape with tiny deer at the bottom may have been exploited to give huge scale to the main figures. Three inscribed cartouches. Ink and colours on silk.

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  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 9thC
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 63.5 centimetres
    • Width: 46.7 centimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

        inscription
      • Inscription Position

        in cartouches
      • Inscription Language

        Chinese
      • Inscription Translation

        Not yet translated.
  • Curator's comments

    Although it only shows two episodes from a longer story, this painting is of great interest as an example of the literary genre known as bianwen 變文, dramatized recitations by monks in return for donations from the faithful. They correspond to the bianxiang 變相,or pictorial illustrations of the sutras, of which most of the wall paintings in the caves, as well as those on silk, are examples.
    The story of the contest between the Buddha’s disciple Sariputra and the heretic leader Raudraksa is told in the Xianyu jing 賢愚經,Sutra of the Wise and the Foolish, apparently a Chinese compilation of stories from the area of Khotan. The most famous illustration of the contest is the long scroll in the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, brought from Dunhuang by Paul Pelliot (Vandier-Nicolas, 1954). That is an illustrated roll with the relevant text written on the back behind each scene. Using it, the monk could read the text from the back as he held up the pictures for the audience to see. All six episodes of the contest are shown in it, although some prefatory scenes are missing at beginning.
    The present silk painting shows only two episodes. Above, an elephant is seen standing in a pool with lotus leaves and flowers. To the lower right, Raudraksa can just be seen, kneeling and reeling backwards in astonishment as the elephant, miraculously created by Sariputra, instantaneously drinks dry the pool that Raudraksa had created by magic. A caption at the left reads: “in the pond there appeared thousand-leaved precious flowers”池中生千葉寳花,while a second caption continues (in part)“seeing the elephant of the Buddhists entering the pool”見佛家象入池.
    The lower left corner of the painting, separated from the rest by the zig-zag bank of the pool, shows Raudraksa in the final episode of the story, falling to the ground in complete defeat. The depiction of his contorted frame is vigorous and energetic, recalling some of the figures of Lokapalas in the treatment of out-stretched hands and feet. Below the falling figure is a glimpse of a landscape in ink, with deer grazing in a rocky valley and trees. This is tiny in scale. Although it appears unrelated to the main scene, it seems quite possible that it was deliberately used to give the effect of huge scale to the main figures; according to the story, Raudraksa in the final contest himself took shape as a gigantic yaksa, but was defeated by Sariputra who personally repeated the miraculous transformations and apparitions of the great miracle of the Buddha at Sravasti.
    Despite the evident fragmentary condition of the silk, the fact that an early episode (the second contest) and the final one are shown together makes it unlikely that this is a fragment from a larger painting showing the entire contest. More probably the major portion is complete here. The painting is certainly no later than the ninth century and according to Professor Akiyama, who considers it to be the earliest illustration of the story, may be as early as the mid-or late eighth century.該繪畫僅僅描繪了長篇故事中的兩個情节,是文學領域中所謂的“變文”的極爲有趣的例子之一。“變文”是僧侶們接受佈施後作爲回報將經文用戲劇的形式演唱給施主聽的一種文學題材。與此相應的有“變相”,就是以繪畫形式表現佛經內容。除了絹畫,石窟壁畫中也有不少遺留的例子。
    《賢愚經》是在于闐地區編纂的佛經故事集,該經記載著佛弟子舍利弗和外道首領勞度叉進行鬥法的故事。把該故事以繪畫形式表現出來的作品中,最有名的屬伯希和從敦煌帶回,現藏於巴黎國立圖書館的卷子本。該卷是畫卷的形式,有關說明文字記錄在各自場景的背面。僧侶高舉繪畫,讓觀衆觀看圖畫,自己讀背面的說明文字。雖然卷首的畫面多少有點損失,但鬥法的六個情节則完整保留下來。
    該絹畫作品中,只描繪了其中兩個情節。右上部是站立在蓮池花葉中的大象,其下方依稀見到勞度叉的身影。繪的是勞度叉用幻術變出湧出的池水,舍利弗的魔力變出的大象瞬間将池水飲乾,因而甚感驚訝的勞度叉兩膝落地,幾乎暈倒。左上邊長方形中的文字是“水池中生千葉寶華”,接下來的部分在右下方長方形框中,它的左行是“見佛家象入池”。
    齒形的池岸線隔開畫面左下方,這一部分描繪了故事的最後情節,遭到慘敗的勞度叉向地面墜落的畫面,這是“□…□出仰倒時”。對他扭曲身體的描繪非常生動有力,張開的手足仿佛是金剛力士像。勞度叉墜落的下方,僅殘留了一部分用墨描的在山間河岸吃草的鹿和樹林的風景畫。對這些風景的描繪都非常小,乍一看,似乎和主體部分毫無關係,但卻有使主體部分顯得更大的效果,是有意識的表現方式。故事中,鬥法的最終,勞度叉雖然變成個巨大夜叉的形態,但由於舍利弗的反復奇迹般變化和佛在舍衛城顯現的大神變,最終還是敗下陣來。
    由絹的狀態看,明顯是由斷片組成的,但最初的情節(第二回鬥法)和最後的情節被繪在一起,恐怕此畫就是這样結束的,從而很難認爲此是一幅把全部情節都描繪出的大型畫的一部分。很明顯它不是9世紀以後的作品,秋山光和教授認爲它是《勞度叉聖變》最早的版本,推定爲8世紀中葉或後半葉的繪畫。

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  • Bibliography

    • Stein 1921a p.1060 bibliographic details
    • Whitfield 1982 pl.21 bibliographic details
  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Associated events

    • Associated Event: Contest between Sariputra and Raudraksa
  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1919

  • Acquisition notes

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

  • Department

    Asia

  • Registration number

    1919,0101,0.62

  • Additional IDs

    • Ch.lv.002 (Stein no.)
Front
Fragment of a painting with part of the story of the contest between Sariputra, Buddha's disciple, and the heretic leader, Raudraksa. The top episode shows an elephant, created by Sariputra, drinking dry the pool Raudraksa magically made. The bottom episode shows Raudraksa falling  back in final defeat. The landscape with tiny deer at the bottom may have been exploited to give huge scale to the main figures. Three inscribed cartouches. Ink and colours on silk.

Front Fragment of a painting with part of the story of the contest between Sariputra, Buddha's disciple, and the heretic leader, Raudraksa. The top episode shows an elephant, created by Sariputra, drinking dry the pool Raudraksa magically made. The bottom episode shows Raudraksa falling back in final defeat. The landscape with tiny deer at the bottom may have been exploited to give huge scale to the main figures. Three inscribed cartouches. Ink and colours on silk.

Image description

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