painting / 繪畫
Fragmentary painting showing three scenes from the Life of the Buddha, in a landscape setting. The top scene shows Prince Śākyamuni after his departure from home, saying an emotional farewell to Chandaka, his groom, and his horse, Kanthaka. The scene below shows Śākyamuni sitting on a wall, composing himself. The bottom scene shows five messengers sent to search for Śākyamuni by his father. Cartouches on alternate sides of the scenes. As is evident from the visible top of a fourth cartouche, there must have been another scene below. Ink and colours on silk.
- Excavated/Findspot: Qian Fo Dong, Ch.lxi.002 (from bundle Ch.lxi 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: 42.5 centimetres (Mounted in royal card mount)
- Width: 19 centimetres
Originally this banner had four scenes, all set in a continuous landscape and punctuated by blank cartouches set on one side or the other. This organization resembles that of the marginal scenes accompanying the paradise paintings: the diagonals formed by the slopes of the landscape serve to divide one scene from the next and provide space for the action or events depicted. Generally it seems not to have been necessary to inscribe the cartouches, presumably because the story would have been well known to the viewers already.
The upper section takes up the story of Prince Sakyamuni’s life after his departure from his father’s palace. He is shown bidding farewell to his groom, Chandaka, and his horse, Kanthaka. The occasion is clearly an emotional one for all three, as the groom and the prince both raise their sleeves to wipe away their tears, and the horse also kneels and seems overcome. Immediately above them, an isolated group of distant mountains shows that was the topmost scene shown on this banner. Immediately below, the landscape continues with Sakyamuni, still wearing his three-pronged princely crown, more composed and seated on a ledge while Chandaka and Kanthaka can just be seen descending the valley opposite. The lower part represents the search for the prince by five messengers sent by his father Suddhodana. As the landscape continues below and there is the top of a fourth cartouche, there must have been a fourth scene at the bottom of the banner.
The messengers are shown as riders, in bright costumes and caps with flowing ribbons. This scene in particular, with the riders in a landscape setting, recalls wall paintings of the early eighth century such as have recently been recovered from princely tombs near Xi’an, especially the scenes of polo playing from the tomb of Zhang Huai 章懷(Tang Li Xian mu bihua, Pls. 15-23).
Despite a certain summary quality in the painting which leaves one in no doubt that the painter was merely following a model (confirmed by the fact that an almost identical group of riders can be seen in another banner illustrating these episodes from the Stein collection now in New Delhi (Stein, Thousand Buddhas, Pl.XII), there is considerable interest in the depiction of the group and in the many flowering trees, beloved of Tang painters. The bright colours used for such motifs as the rocks show the kind of colour scheme that knew later fame as the blue-green style, traced back to Li Sixun 李思訓and his son at the Tang court in the late seventh and early eighth century.本幡原畫有四個場景，全部設置在一個連續的風景畫中並且在其間插入空白的長方欄作爲場景分隔。這樣的組織畫面類似于淨土圖邊緣部分的故事圖，風景畫的斜綫組成對角綫來劃分一個場景和另一個場景，同時也爲活動和事件的文字說明提供空間，通常這好像不一定需要文字描述的，也許是因爲觀衆對這個故事已經非常熟悉而顯得沒有必要了。
2007 8 Feb-5 Aug, BM Gallery 91, 'Gods, Guardians and Immortals: Chinese Religious Paintings'
6 February 1997
Lined onto coloured backing. Float mounted onto an old mount. Some lose threads.
Demounted dry. Removed any paper remains with moisture. Re-laid lose silk threads with methyl cellulose. Lightly spray relaxed and placed between blotting paper under a board with weights. Remounted in royal acid free board by MT3.
- Associated Event: Life of the Buddha
For full acquisition history, see 1919,0101,0.1.
- Ch.lxi.002 (Stein no.)
Front Painting fragment showing three scenes from the Life of the Buddha, in a landscape setting. The top scene shows Prince Sakyamuni after his departure from home, saying an emotional farewell to Chandaka, his groom, and his horse, Kanthaka. The scene below shows Sakyamuni sitting on a wall, composing himself. The bottom scene shows five messengers sent to search for Sakyamuni by his father. Cartouches on alternate sides of the scenes. As is evident from the visible top of a fourth cartouche, there must have been another scene below. Ink and colours on silk.
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Object reference number: RFC708
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