painting / banner / 繪畫 / 幡
An extremely well preserved banner complete with triangular headpiece, streamers and weighting board. On the painted area is a bodhisattva, standing on a lotus, holding a glass beaker with a lotus blossom. Unusually, the bodhisattva is shown from the back, with the face in side-view. Below the figure are lines of scrolling leaves. Ink and colours on silk.
- Excavated/Findspot: Qian Fo Dong, Ch.0025 (from 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: 172.5 centimetres
- Width: 18 centimetres
These are two of the best-preserved of the so-called banner paintings from Dunhuang, since they have survived almost complete, with headpieces, side and tail streamers and weighting boards.
Taking first the Bodhisattva, and leaving aside the question of identification, which is not easily determined, it is interesting to consider the construction of such a banner, as it is in some respects different from that of the larger votive paintings. The painting itself, on a narrow piece of silk, comprises not only the figure but also a narrow ink border on either edge, a band of lozenges below and a painted valance above; these serve as a kind of frame. In this example the triangular headpiece was of a separate piece of silk, now perished or lost, with a pale pink border sewn on its outer edges. At the apex is the original hanging loop. Along the base of the headpiece, originally covered by the silk but now revealed, is a bamboo splint used as a stiffener. This is wound with scraps of red and blue coloured silk threads, running obliquely in opposite directions and so enabling the rest of the banner to be sewn onto it without risk of slipping. A similar piece of bamboo stiffens the lower end of the painting and from it in turn hang four silk streamers, each decorated with a single wavy stem with alternate leaves and flower buds. These are painted in silver. At the bottom all four streamers are fixed in a wooden board, by means of a slit in which they are held by another splint of bamboo. The board itself, coloured red, is similarly decorated in silver with a central flower flanked by leaves.
Two side streamers are attached to the top stiffener so as partially to cover the edges of the painting. Their ends hang free. These ends are of grey silk, sewn onto a longer ribbon of green. As will be seen in Vol.3, scraps of silk were always saved and used as parts of votive materials at Dunhuang. Here there seems to be an aesthetic motive as well since the grey ends of the streamers correspond nicely with the beginning of the silver-decorated tail streamers, while the green part frames the painting.
The Vajrapani banner has also the triangular piece of silk from the centre of the headpiece. The suspension loop has a red cord, also apparently original, inserted through it. The lower part consists of a single piece of indigo-dyed silk, with two slits cut almost to the top. The edges of the resulting three streamers have been rolled and finely sewn to prevent the silk fraying. The silk has a shiny appearance, and is also wavy, the latter due simply to long storage rolled round the weighting board. The board is decorated with three floral motifs.
Such banners look very similar front and back, since the silk is of a single thickness and the painting can be seen from both sides. That they were meant to be so seen is easily shown since the triangular headpiece is frequently made from a folded square of silk, giving a double thickness and having a separate painting on each side. There are also a fair number of banners more cheaply made out of linen or paper, both of which were opaque: all of these are painted on both sides with similar figures (Vol.2, Pls.41-46). It is therefore likely that the paintings were not hung on a wall but in some place where they could twist and turn freely. In fact the wall paintings show banners hanging from the tops of pagodas or high canopies (e.g., Cave 220, see Flying Devis, 1980,Pl.52); and on occasion, as in two of the Stein paintings showing the Bodhisattva Guide of Souls (Vol. 2,Pls. 9, 10), the banner is hanging from a hook at the top of a staff. Such a hook is actually mentioned in the inscription to Stein painting 216 (Vol. 2, Pl.32), one of the banners of exceptional length, dated A.D.956; the donor “respectfully (caused to be) painted this forty-nine feet banner in one strip. This banner suspended on high from a dragon hook ... twisting about and flapping in the wind like a bird in flight, like the coloured [hangings] in the Western Apartments of the Palace.”(Waley, 1931,p.187.)
Because it has survived almost intact, this banner has already been presented in Pl.28 to introduce the construction of banner paintings. Here it is interesting to note the way in which the painter has approached the problem of showing a figure from the back. The main part of the figure is in three-quarter back view, much as the Bodhisattva of Pl. 49, but with the head turned even further and seen in profile. As occasionally in other Dunhuang paintings, the side view of the face presents a single outline from forehead to mouth, with the nose seen beyond this. The rear view of the shoulders also enables us to see how the hair, seen framing the shoulders of very many Bodhisattvas, divides at the neck into two large locks, falling from a chignon behind the tiara. Other details of the painting similarly reveal the disposition of the robes. The long white scarf in front, so prominent in many of the banners (such as Pl. 56) is just visible, draped over the lotus petals.
The Bodhisattva holds a glass beaker, evidently moulded and cut in large dimples in the same fashion as that held by the Bodhisattva of Pl. 56, but with an everted instead of an incurved lip, and containing a lotus blossom. Such glass vessels, as explained in the notes to Pl. 56, were probably imports from Iran.這是敦煌幡畫中保存最完好的其中兩幅，它們的幡頭、邊、幡尾和最下端的墜板都完全保留下來。
這樣的幡的正反面看起來非常相似，因爲絲綢只有一層，兩面都可以看見圖像，它們刻意被設計成容易看見，因爲三角形的頭幡由折叠的絲織品製成，具有雙層的厚度幷且每一面都是不同的畫面。還有很多的幡畫製作廉價，由亞麻布或紙製成，它們都是不透光的：兩面的圖案是相同的，(Vol. 2,Pls,41-46).這是因爲這些幡畫幷不是懸挂在墻上，在有些地方它們能够捲起來或自由翻動，事實上壁畫顯示幡畫懸掛在寶塔頂部和高的華蓋(例如：220窟，敦煌飛天，1980，Pl 52)；甚至象斯坦因收藏的兩幅畫中的《引路菩薩圖》(Vol.2 Pls. 9, 10)那樣，幡畫從某個物體頂部的勾子上懸掛下來。這樣的勾子在斯坦因收藏的畫216中已經被提到---該畫繪于西元956年，它的長度超乎想像，捐獻者分別在一條帶子上繪出了這個49英尺長的幡畫。這個幡畫從一個龍形的鈎子上垂下來，在風中捲曲、飄轉，就像鳥兒在飛翔，像西宮的彩色懸挂物一樣，(Waley, 1931,p. 187.)。
For full acquisition history, see 1919,0101,0.1.
- Ch.0025 (Stein no.)
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