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Bezeklik (Bzklik) Fresco

Praņidhi scene No. 6, Temple No. 9, Bzklik


A detail of the donors in Pranidhi scene No. 6, Temple No. 9.


Above the picture runs the rather destroyed frieze; the inscription tablet bears the words in Sanskrit:
Hastyasvena suvarṇena nribhi ratnamuktibhiḥ
ṣaṇṇm jinnm pujrtham udynam sreṣṭhin kritam l
With elephants and horses, gold, women, jewels and pearls, the merchant created (= donated) a park to honour the 6 Jina's.
      The figure of Buddha stands, head bowed to the left, on two lotus flowers; the webbed hands are clearly shown. Under the yellow upper garment, hung with jewel chains, one sees a shorter, blackish, and a longer dark red undergarment.
      The mandorla and aureole are mainly decorated with jagged and wavy lines; the uṣṇṣa lacks the snail ornament, and the red mark that appears in some of the Buddha images, similar to the representation of the rṇ, is also missing on the chest.
      The area around the Buddha consists of ten human figures, six of which are on the right and four on the left of the picture. In addition to the latter, there are also three beasts of burden, camel, donkey and horse.
      Four of these human figures appear to be portraits, while the other six are likely to be schematic representations of mythological personalities. Among the portraits I would like to include the tribute-bringers kneeling in the foreground (bottom) right and left, and fourth the Arhat in the upper right corner.
      The two adorants in the lower right corner of the picture are shown in a kneeling position; in their hands they offer yellow (golden) bowls with a lower edge showing a chased leaf ornament. The offerings themselves consist of seven bulging bags (e.g. with gold dust) filled with different coloured bags and a number of them painted or dotted with a mesh pattern yellow or white cones of small size arranged around the bags on the tray; these cones may be the models of the Lamaist sacrificial pyramids (tib. g Dor-ma).
      Most interesting is the man kneeling on the far right. The broad face, quite rough in expression, is framed by a thick red beard; a strong mustache hides the upper lip of the slightly open mouth, bushy, slightly curved brows extend above the bright green painted eyes. The front of the red hair is arranged in a row of narrow, ribbon-like strands that hang down to the browbones; hanging on the sides, in front of the ears, two wider strands of this kind down to the chest. The hair on the back of the head seems to fall in a smooth, heavy mass on the shoulder and back. The complexion is light with reddish brown tones. The head is covered by a hemispherical black cap with a gold braid and a gold top that carries a green gem on the apex; a double knotted cord hangs down from the cap; the front, visible part of this double cord is attached to the cap in a golden rosette. The clothing consists of a green, patterned, fur-trimmed tunic, which, closed in the middle, shows red, yellow-tinged cuffs on the chest and shoulders; above the hips there are black, red-edged, flap-like cuffs sewn with yellow braids, around which the belt, fastened with a buckle and decorated with heart-shaped silver ornaments, runs. There is a whip in the belt; a cloth hangs from it, tied on its string.
      The trousers are white, the tops of the red and black boots are prevented from sliding down by a pair of cords that cross the thighs (see the secondary figure!) and are probably attached to the waistband.
      His neighbour on the left also has a protruding nose, but his hair and eyes are black, the eyebrows droop and the beard is drawn out in two points.
      The costume is on the whole similar to the one described, but it opens to the left, where it is turned up like a collar at the neck and shows lacing below the arm. Also different is the hat, which is black on the inside with a green border and on the outside a scale or wave pattern with golden-yellow bone decorated with a chain of heart ornaments.
      The clothing of the adorant on the left is similar to that of the man just described; only the hat is of a different kind and seems to consist of a conical head part with opened forehead and neck protection. In his hand he holds the reins of the three beasts of burden on which he has made offerings. They are located in the cone-shaped, artfully tied balls on the back of the animals.
      This persons face was damaged by a blow in the neck when we cleared the sand from the temple. The costumes of the other personalities, with the exception of those of the two clergymen, belong to mythology; the three kneeling adorants, on the other hand, probably wear the traditional costume in the country.
      To the right above (behind) the two adorants in the right corner are two bodhisattvas in Indian divine costumes. Both hands are joined adoringly, the clothes and jewelry are the same for both and only different in colour. On the other hand, the hairstyle of the right-hand bodhisattva, who faces the Buddha, shows an arrangement that deviates from the usual scheme; the rich brown hair on the head is gathered in broad stripes, which are laid one on top of the other like a braid towards the back and decorated with inserted flowers. The skin colour is white with a slightly reddish shade. The figure turning the head away from the Buddha wears the hairstyle that is more common: the skin colour shows brownish tones.
      To the left of the Buddha figure, above (behind) the individual adorant, another god figure, striking because of her light skin colour, bends down to the left; her arms are raised at chest height and her posture seems to express astonishment. The fine mustaches of the three deities depicted in this series make them representations of male beings.
      In the upper right corner of the picture appears the last of the four portrait figures; the head with hair shaved in the middle is irregularly shaped. The hair is black, but the eyes are light blue in colour; the brow lines are slightly lowered towards the outside. The shaved beard is clearly indicated by a frequently occurring schematic representation, the nose protrudes strongly, and, near the ear, the cheekbone is conspicuously depicted. The clothing consists of a yellow undergarment and a green, red-striped patchwork robe. The skin colour is yellowish with a brownish-red shade. Above him, on the left, stands - in the same adoring posture - a younger, schematically painted monk with dark brown undergarment and yellow robe; the shades in the latter, as in the yellow robes of the other figures, are made of reddish-brown colour.
      In the upper left corner of the picture stands the armoured figure of the Buddhas companion, Vajrapini, with his left arm on his hip. He is depicted as a demon with a large head of black hair, a pointed ear, bulging brown eyes and small tusks protruding from the corners of his mouth. The beard shows up only in four pointed tufts below the ears and on the sides of the chin. He wears an armour of blue-black steel with a green chest-piece, decorated with red and white lines; the arms are in sleeves made of scale armour, over which he has placed bracers on the forearm.
      The thunderbolt does not appear on this representation; perhaps the god leans on this weapon, which disappears behind the aureole of the figure standing in front of (below) him. In his right hand he holds the fly whisk (caur) carried over his shoulder.
      On his left one can still see the head and parts of the upper body of a deity in a worshiping position; the lack of a mustache may suggest a goddess.
      Below the group of adorers in the right-hand corner of the picture, part of the painted plinth shown below the Praņidhi pictures in all the aisles of the temple has been preserved; it represents a wall made of dark and light brown bricks (?). Only this part of the base was taken because the cost of the transport seemed too high compared to the importance of the object.
Natural size: approx 3.25 x 2.80 m.
Source: Chotscho by Albert von Le Coq Plate 22



In most of the Praṇidhi (promise) scenes the Buddha is surrounded by Indian style bodhisattvas etc. with halos, but 2 (this and scene 14) have some ordinary figures as well.
The kneeling groom to the left and kneeling donor to the right of the Buddha wear belts with thongs. The latter belt has a ring from which a scabbard is attached by a cord.

A large B&W detail and notes on this Bezeklik fresco, Pranidhi scene No. 6, Temple No. 9.

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