- Museum number
Painted banner of a bodhisattva, depicted with a green body, holding a blue vajra in his right hands, a lotus stem in his left, and standing on a lotus. One of series of ten (see 1919,0101,0.101 and 102, which share many of the same features, including three-pronged tiara, striped dhoti, colourful flowered scarves). Ink and colour on silk. Tibetan inscription.
- Production date
- 801-850 (circa)
Height: 55 centimetres
Width: 14.50 centimetres
- Curator's comments
From Whitfield 1982:
This banner is the most impressive of the three (Pls. 46-48). The Bodhisattva, holding a small vajra in his right hand, faces the spectator squarely. The left hand, palm outwards, seems to caress one of the curving lotus stems at his side. Above him, instead of the hanging textile drape of the other banners, is a splendid floral border. His striped dhoti is smoothly wrapped around each leg, and a white-flowered scarf is tied in a generous knot on the right hip. The colour of his body is a greenish bronze. His eyes, quite horizontal, are almond-shaped, bright white with black pupils. This feature above all gives the figure its Indianizing appearance, and one might make the comparison with bronze figures with the eyes inlaid in silver (see, for instance, the eighth-century bronze Buddha from Phyang monastery, Ladakh, reproduced in Singh, 1968,p.53). Bright white is also used for the yajñopavīta, or sacrificial thread worn by the Bodhisattva-in sculpture these too on occasion may have been inlaid in silver. Such features support the theory that this group of paintings may be related to the art of Khotan.
All three of these banners and presumably those in New Delhi from the same group differ in construction from the rest of the Dunhuang banners. They are on a grey silk with a balanced close weave, while the majority of the paintings are on a more open silk, with warp threads running in pairs. They are also much narrower than the usual width of the other banners, and both edges are hemmed with a strip of silk binding, instead of being merely painted with a dark brown pigment as is commonly seen. Finally, all three of these banners show a selvedge on the lower end. These facts seem to imply a different origin for the silk itself, and a different tradition of making the banners, the figures being at a right angle to the warp instead of in line with it. It does therefore seem possible, from technical as well as stylistic evidence, that these paintings were executed elsewhere and brought to Dunhuang, rather than being executed there under the influence of models from further west. It is very noticeable that none of the banners (including the group in New Delhi) has a cartouche for characters, even those that are in fact inscribed in Tibetan.
From Whitfield 1982:
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1990 20 Oct-9 Dec, Japan, Tokyo, Setagaya Art Museum, Treasures of the British Museum, cat. no.155
1991 5 Jan-20 Feb, Japan, Yamaguchi, Prefectural Museum of Art, Treasures of the British Museum, cat. no.155
1991 9 Mar-7 May, Japan, Osaka, National Museum of Art, Treasures of the British Museum, cat. no.155
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- For full acquisition history, see 1919,0101,0.1.
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: Ch.lvi.002 (Stein no.)