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painting / banner / 繪畫 / 幡

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1919,0101,0.99

  • Description

    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 colours on silk.

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  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 9thC
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 81.5 centimetres (with mount)
    • Width: 30.7 centimetres (with mount)
    • Thickness: 0.6 centimetres (mounted)
    • Height: 66.5 centimetres (Painted image)
    • Width: 20.2 centimetres (Painted image)
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

        inscription
      • Inscription Position

        on general's banner
      • Inscription Language

        Chinese
      • Inscription Transliteration

        zuo yi jiang
      • Inscription Translation

        First General of the Left (ie, the best general, since left has precedence)
  • Curator's comments

    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).此幡沒有場景的嚴格的分隔,但佛的兩個生活場景與上部的Cakravatin的七寶的描寫聯合起來(見第40頁下面的附注,那裏有一個珠寶的完全單子)。
    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。
    就像敦煌其它圖畫中出現的那樣,在此幡畫生活場景的上面被一個在加一幡畫出現的同一主題占據。這裏的人物和一些圖案都被雲彩圍繞,背景中有樹,所以看起來不是獨立的場景,而是下面描寫的事件場景的顯現。在人群中有一人舉著幡,上面寫著“左一將”——“左边的第一长官”,即最高长官,因为在中国排位中尚左,即左边的位置尊于右边的位置。这很好地吻合了教義規定的七宝名单的排序(见圖40)。他也带了一个盾,上面装饰着大块的色彩,与没有装饰的绢幡畫的风格很相似(卷3,圖10)。馬的紅鬃和紅尾馬就象王子辭別的那個場景(圖29、38)。螺旋形的雲首次被畫成白色和暗淡的色彩,使用濃厚的顔色以提供堅固的外部的輪廓,以打破白色,形成羽毛的形狀,這種技術似乎最先應用於盛唐的壁畫(參照《敦煌壁畫》圖版149,205窟),但這裏白色的羽毛似乎比早期的延伸更多,形成螺旋狀,這種描繪直接與伯希和收藏的繪畫相比較,在那兒七寶被表現在低的邊欄上。

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  • Bibliography

    • Sullivan 1962 bibliographic details
    • Whitfield & Farrer 1990 cat.no.27 bibliographic details
    • Menzies 2001 cat.no.40 bibliographic details
    • Whitfield 1982 pl.32 bibliographic details
    • Stein 1921a pp.962-963; vol.IV, pl.LXXIV bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Exhibition history

    Exhibited:

    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

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Associated places

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1919

  • Acquisition notes

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

  • Department

    Asia

  • Registration number

    1919,0101,0.99

  • Additional IDs

    • Ch.00114 (Stein no.)
Front  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 Sakyamuni in Lumbini Garden and his first steps. Blank cartouches on alternate sides of the scenes. Ink and colours on silk.

Front 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 Sakyamuni in Lumbini Garden and his first steps. Blank cartouches on alternate sides of the scenes. Ink and colours on silk.

Image description

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