painting / banner / 繪畫 / 幡
Painted banner showing four scenes from the Life of the Buddha: Dipankara's prediction of Śākyamuni's birth; old age, sickness and death; the dream of Queen Maya; and her confinement. Blank cartouches on alternate sides of the scenes. Ink and colours on silk.
- Excavated/Findspot: Qian Fo Dong, Ch.lv.009 (from bundle Ch.lv 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: 60 centimetres
- Width: 16.5 centimetres
This very handsome banner, one of a pair, the other of which is in New Delhi (Ch.lv.0010, Stein, Desert Cathay, vol.Ⅱ, Pl.Ⅵ; Serindia, Pl.LXXIV), shows four scenes one above the other, clearly divided by broad bands of the same colour as the side borders. This arrangement for the successive episodes of a narrative, as an alternative to their depiction in a continuous landscape setting, parallels the alternatives that were open to a painter depicting narrative in a horizontal format such as the handscroll or the registers of a wall painting. Cartouches for the possible inscription of explanatory labels appear alternately on either side. The New Delhi banner exactly matches this arrangement so that it seems likely that the two hung together as a pair or on either side of a central painting.
The scenes begin at the top of the banner (Pl. 30-1). In the first scene, a Buddha (Dipamkara?), accompanied by two attendants, touches the head of a young hermit. Although the identification of the characters is not possible, the intent is clear as a prediction that a future existence the youth will be reborn as Sakyamuni. The second scene shows several figures or perhaps the same one successively as an old man supported by a boy, on his sick bed, and finally in death, while his soul flies up to paradise represented by buildings in the sky. The third scene (Pl.30-2) shows a palace courtyard with one building open to reveal the sleeping figure of Queen Maya, the mother of Prince Sakyamuni, while a figure on a white elephant appears on a cloud from above. This represents the conception of the Buddha. The last scene shows the queen’s confinement, with her attendants keeping watch outside the closed pavilion where she lies.
In style, the architecture with its slender and elegant features, the columns ruled as fine straight lines, is close to the architecture of the side scenes, illustrating the story of Prince Ajatasatru, in the wall paintings of Cave 25 at Yulin. Among the paintings on silk, apart from others of the banner paintings showing the life of Buddha, the side scenes of Pl. 9 are probably the closest. This would suggest a date in the middle or second half of the ninth century.這個非常漂亮的幡，是一對中的一個，另一個藏在新德里(Ch.lv.0010, 斯坦因, Desert Cathay, vol.Ⅱ, Pl.Ⅵ; Serindia, Pl.LXXIV)，顯示四個場景一個在另一個的上面，明顯地被同色寬帶作爲邊界分隔開來，這個故事的連續情節的安排，是連續的風景畫描述中的一種排列方式，畫家也可以選擇用另外一種表現方式以，比如用手寫卷或者用壁畫的方式。長方形的題簽作爲描述的標簽交替出現在每一邊，新德里的幡正好配上這個布局,所以它好象兩個懸掛在一起作爲一對或者在中央畫面的兩邊。
2007 8 Feb-5 Aug, BM Gallery 91, 'Gods, Guardians and Immortals: Chinese Religious Paintings'
- Associated Event: Life of the Buddha
For full acquisition history, see 1919,0101,0.1.
- Ch.lv.009 (Stein no.)
Front Painted banner showing four scenes from the Life of the Buddha: Dipankara's prediction of Sakyamuni's birth; old age, sickness and death; the dream of Queen Maya and her confinement. Blank cartouches on alternate sides of the scenes. Ink and colours on silk.
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Object reference number: RFC709
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