What just happened?

To celebrate Vikings Live, we have replaced our Roman alphabet with the runic alphabet used by the Vikings, the Scandinavian ‘Younger Futhark’. The ‘Younger Futhark’ has only 16 letters, so we have used some of the runic letters more than once or combined two runes for one Roman letter.

For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

More information about how we have ‘runified’ this site

 

Collection online

Additional options
Production date to

Or search by

Searching...

painting / banner / 繪畫 / 幡

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1919,0101,0.96

  • Description

    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.

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 9thC
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 60 centimetres
    • Width: 16.5 centimetres
  • Curator's comments

    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。
    這個場景從幡頂上開始(Pl. 30-1),在第一個場景,描繪的是有二個侍者的燃燈佛手摸年輕修行者的頭。雖然這個角色的身份不太可能,但目的很明顯在於預言未來這個年輕人將再生爲釋迦牟尼。第二個場景顯示了幾個人或者同一個人,被一個仆童扶坐起來的老人,在他的病床上最後死去,他的靈魂最後飛向天堂。第三個場景(Pl.30-2)顯示了宮殿敞開的部分,露出太子的母親摩耶王后睡覺的畫象,其上有一個坐在白象上的幼兒身姿,代表著釋迦牟尼的“入胎”。最後是摩耶王后生産的場面,牆壁圍起的産房外,她的隨帶侍女守候在她所躺的華麗宮殿之外。
    從風格上,畫面的建築帶著纖細和優雅的特征,柱子被設計成優美的直線,與這些建築類似的是榆林第25窟的壁畫中描述的悉達多王子的故事,在這些絹畫中,除了一些佛傳圖外,彩色圖版中的第9圖邊緣部所見到的描繪,恐怕最接近該作品。從這一點可推斷該畫應該是9世紀中期或9世紀下半葉的作品。

    More 

  • Bibliography

    • Whitfield & Farrer 1990 cat.no.26 bibliographic details
    • Pemberton 2002 pages 27, 31 &35. bibliographic details
    • Whitfield 1982 pl.30 bibliographic details
    • Stein 1921a pp.1062-1063; vol.IV, pl.LXXIV bibliographic details
  • Exhibition history

    Exhibited:

    2007 8 Feb-5 Aug, BM Gallery 91, 'Gods, Guardians and Immortals: Chinese Religious Paintings'

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Associated events

    • Associated Event: Life of the Buddha
  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1919

  • Acquisition notes

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

  • Department

    Asia

  • Registration number

    1919,0101,0.96

  • Additional IDs

    • 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.

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.

Image description

Recommend


Feedback

If you’ve noticed a mistake or have any further information about this object, please email: collectiondatabase@britishmuseum.org 

View open data for this object with SPARQL endpoint

Object reference number: RFC709

British Museum collection data is also available in the W3C open data standard, RDF, allowing it to join and relate to a growing body of linked data published by organisations around the world.

View this object

Support the Museum:
donate online

The Museum makes its collection database available to be used by scholars around the world. Donations will help support curatorial, documentation and digitisation projects.

About the database

The British Museum collection database is a work in progress. New records, updates and images are added every week.

More about the database 

Supporters

Work on this database is supported by a range of sponsors, donors and volunteers.

More about supporters and how you
can help  

Loading...