painting / banner / 繪畫 / 幡
A very long banner with headpiece and wooden weighting board. The main painted area shows Sūryaprabha, the Bodhisattva of the Sun (identified by inscription), standing on a lotus floating on water. The figure holds the sun, a disc with a red cockerel, in both hands. Below this is an ornamental design of flowers and birds. The white outline represents silver, and the yellow details are for gold. Colours on silk.
- Excavated/Findspot: Qian Fo Dong, Ch.00303 (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: 213 centimetres (length)
- Width: 25.5 centimetres
Inscription Positionin cartouche near figure's head
Inscription TransliterationRiyao pusa
Inscription TranslationBodhisattva of the Sun
This banner is preserved complete, intact save for some damage to the foot and to the headpiece, both showing signs of ancient repairs before it was put away in the sealed library. Since the closely woven dark blue silk is not at all transparent, the Bodhisattva is represented on the front and the back of the banner in similar but not identical postures. Holding the sun, a disc with a cock depicted in red, in both hands, the Bodhisattva is identified by a cartouche (Pl. 30-2) as 日矅菩薩, Bodhisattva of the Sun, presumably, as suggested by Waley, the same as the Bodhisattva of Sunlight 日光菩薩, one of the two chief attendants on Bhaisajyaguru.
The figure is confidently drawn in smooth flowing lines of white (for silver), with yellow (for gold) used for the ornaments and patterns on the dress, and red used for the lips as well as for the cock on both sides. The facial features are small in comparison with the full heavy curves of the cheeks but carefully organized. The result gives considerable freedom, for instance in the forms taken by the ends of the scarves, while the painter’s confidence is demonstrated in the different positions of the feet, one foreshortened, the other in profile, both solidly planted on the lotus pedestal rising as a complete flower from the foreground pool (Pl. 30-1).
A border of lozenges, each with a flower and petalled edges, separates the Bodhisattva from the lower part of the banner, an undivided piece of silk of the same weave and colour but with a repeating pattern of confronting ducks within a flower-and –leaf motif (Pl. 30-3). This too appears to have been drawn freehand rather than stencilled (as suggested by Waley) since there is a considerable amount of variation between front and back, and indeed between repeats on the same side. The weighting board is painted in green and black on a red ground.
The pattern of confronting ducks is similar to that of a kyokechi-printed textile of the eighth century in the Shoso-in (Matsumoto, 1974, Pl.19), as already noticed by Waley. But the technique alone, apart from this coincidence of motif, recalls other painted works in the Shoso-in, where gold or silver has been used on a darker ground. Although this banner is not alone among those from Dunhuang to adopt this technique (an even larger banner in silver on red damask, featuring a single huge figure over its full length of 386 cm, is shown in Vol. 3), it is possible that its distinctive features indicate that it was made elsewhere. In any case, the international character of Tang style in the eighth century is readily apparent from such comparisons with material far away in Japan.本幡保存狀態極好，下端和幡頭還保持著進入藏經洞之前修補的痕跡，其他部分基本完好。使用了深藍色密織的絹，所以無法透過背面看見表面的像，而正反兩面的畫像姿勢與表面的像略有不同。菩薩兩手捧著在圓圈中畫有紅色鳥的日輪，長方形題箋中記有“日曜菩薩”（參照圖30－2），但如Waley所述，可能和藥師如來的兩脅侍之一日光菩薩相同。
1990 20 Oct-9 Dec, Japan, Tokyo, Setagaya Art Museum, Treasures of the British Museum, cat. no.154
1991 5 Jan-20 Feb, Japan, Yamaguchi, Prefectural Museum of Art, Treasures of the British Museum, cat. no.154
1991 9 Mar-7 May, Japan, Osaka, National Museum of Art, Treasures of the British Museum, cat. no.154
5 August 1982 - 7 September 1982
Reason for analysis
Stein Collection pigments from Tang dynasty paintings
Analysis of pigments.
Analysis materials group
Analysis reference number
For full acquisition history, see 1919,0101,0.1.
- Ch.00303 (Stein no.)
Front A very long banner with headpiece and wooden weighting board. The main painted area shows Suryaprabha, the Bodhisattva of the Sun, standing on a lotus floating on water. The figure holds the sun, a disc with a red cockerel, in both hands. Below this is an ornamental design of flowers and birds. The white outline represents silver, and the yellow details are for gold. Colours on silk.
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Object reference number: RFC737
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