- Museum number
Banner showing the seven treasures of the cakravartin (world sovereign): golden wheel, jewel, coffer, general, lady, elephant and horse. The general carries a banner inscribed "zuo yi jiang" (first general of the left). Below the treasures are two scenes from the Life of the Buddha: the bathing of the newborn Śākyamuni in Lumbini Garden and his first steps. Blank cartouches on alternate sides of the scenes. Ink and colour on silk.
- Production date
Height: 66.50 centimetres (Painted image)
Height: 81.50 centimetres (with mount)
Thickness: 0.60 centimetres (mounted)
Width: 20.20 centimetres (Painted image)
Width: 30.70 centimetres (with mount)
- Curator's comments
From Whitfield 1982:
This banner has no formal separation of the scenes, but two scenes from the life of Buddha are combined with the depiction above of the Seven Treasures of the Cakravartin (see the notes to Pl.40 below, for a complete list of the treasures).
The depiction of the Bath in the Lumbini Garden and the First Steps is some-what more elaborate than is the case in Pl.31, but is essentially quite similar in style. The heads of the naga spirits are gathered together in a black cloud and can clearly be seen as Chinese dragons (Pl. 32-3). There is a token landscape setting to the whole composition, with a scattering of flowering plants, two trees behind the infant prince in the bath scene, and the foliage of another tree at the top of the painting. Below, the ladies surround the infant as he stands on a lotus pedestal. One of them holds out a towel as if ready to dry him, a motif reminiscent of the swaddling cloth held by Indra and Brahma in early representations of the birth (e.g., at Amaravati, 1 st-2 nd century A.D., cf. Barrett, 1954, Pl.Ⅷc). Although each of the figure groups as a whole is stationary, the attitudes of the individual figures are quite varied, with some of them seen from behind and in contrapposto, reflecting Tang interest in figure painting and the long experience of painters in China with groups of figures, now revealed by the excavation of wall paintings in tombs near Xi’an.
The space above the Life scenes in this banner is occupied by a subject that is also found on another banner (Pl. 40),as well as in other paintings from Dunhuang (Bannieres, No.6). Here the figures and the symbols appear supported by clouds, with trees just visible in the background, so that it would seem that they are not just a separate representation, but a appear as manifestations on the occasion of the events portrayed below. Among them the general carries a banner with characters zuo yi jiang 左一將, “First General of the Left”, that is, “the best general”, since the left takes precedence over the right in Chinese ranks. He thus corresponds well with the canonical list of the Seven Treasures (see Pl.40). He also carries a shield which is decorated in large squares of colour in similar fashion to the silk banners without decoration (Vol.3, Pl.10). The horse has a red mane and tail as with the scenes of the prince’s Farewell (Pls.29 and 38). The spirals of the clouds were first drawn in white and a pale colour, then denser colour was used to provide firm outer contours and to break up the white in a feathered effect. This technique seems to have been first used in the High Tang in the wall paintings (cf. Cave 205, Dunhuang bihua, Pl.149), but here the feathering of the white seems to extend much further around the spiral than in such early examples. The depiction is directly comparable with the painting in the Pelliot collection, where the Seven Treasures are shown along the lower margin (Bannieres, No. 6).
From Whitfield 1982:
對藍毘尼花園中的“灌頂”和“七步”的描寫，無論如何比圖31的描繪有更多裝飾，但從本質上是非常相似的風格，九龍的頭在黑雲中聚集在一起，可以清楚的看出是中國的龍形。在整個構圖中散布著一些開花的植物，在灌頂的場景中兩棵樹在嬰兒王子的後面，畫的頂部有另一棵樹的樹葉。在下面，婦女圍繞著站在蓮座上的嬰兒，其中一個婦女拿著一塊毛巾好象准備將他擦幹淨，這個主題使人想到了早期生育的代表梵天和帝釋天手拿著包裹嬰兒的布。(例如, Amaravati, 1 st – 2 nd century A.D., cf. Barrett, 1954, Pl. VIIIc).雖然作爲一個整體的每個畫象都是固定的，但因爲他們姿勢不同，顯得是活勸的，其中一些從後面看並且in contrapposto，舆西安附近挖掘出來的墓葬壁畫中發現的人群畫相比較,反映了唐代在人物畫的興趣和人群畫像的較長的發展經歷。
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1990 20 Oct-9 Dec, Japan, Tokyo, Setagaya Art Museum, Treasures of the British Museum, cat. no.163
1991 5 Jan-20 Feb, Japan, Yamaguchi, Prefectural Museum of Art, Treasures of the British Museum, cat. no.163
1991 9 Mar-7 May, Japan, Osaka, National Museum of Art, Treasures of the British Museum, cat. no.163
2001 1 Nov-2002 9 Feb, Sydney, Transending Space and Time
2005 25 Jul-8 Oct, Busan Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures
2007 8 Feb-5 Aug, BM Gallery 91, 'Gods, Guardians and Immortals: Chinese Religious Paintings'
2016 7 May-4 Sep, Los Angeles, Getty Research Institute, Cave Temples of Dunhuang: Buddhist Art on China's Silk Road
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- For full acquisition history, see 1919,0101,0.1.
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: Ch.00114 (Stein no.)