A Rock Sculpture of Maitreya in the Suru Valley, Ladakh Author(s): Jan Fontein Source: Artibus Asiae, Vol. 41, No.

1 (1979), pp. 5-12 Published by: Artibus Asiae Publishers Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3249497 Accessed: 22/10/2010 23:03
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(stfpas) abouthalf-way between andLeh. Wilson. 1976. Snellgrove and Tadeusz Skorupski. which initiallycauseda certainamountof confusion. The CulturalHeritageof Ladakb. Since 1974. I49.Francke visited Mulbek forhe makes no mention description. of a four-armed hasbeencarved. the of Mulbek a major of visitors hasbecome tourist attraction for the thousands who Maitreya travel eachsummer. Manfred Gerner.but once this toponymic discrepancy had been resolved. Warminster:Aris & Philips. Moorcroft and G.? ninetyyearslater. greenSuru Valley. Travels of Hindustan 1841.we reached overwhichtowerthesnowy twinpeaks sidesby baremountains of thearea calldKar-rtse on mostmaps). Printing. 4. 7. London. in theHimalayan Provinces W. blockingan unimpeded erecteda smallwooden templeimmediately view of at its feet. 173 A.ed. vol. 1977. Ltd.. I r . 21o.our interpreter Hussanand I set out for our David L.3 modern the in the upperSuru me to leave last Khartse showa villagenamed Valley. 1977.JAN FONTEIN A ROCK SCULPTURE OF MAITREYA IN THE SURU VALLEY. however. wood. 1914. Antiquitiesof Indian Tibet.H. P. I49. Kaschmir Ladakbh. symbolically the transition fromIslamic into Buddhist for it is at this pointthatthe chbrten territory. themain Mulbek. in an effort to locatethestatue whichFrancke tourist track beaten on all enclosed thewell-irrigated. p.H. Margret & Rolf Schettler.i). maps go there". year prompted hadnot beenableto visit.H.on thefaceof whichthefigure Maitreya Themorethantwenty-five feettallsculpture. II. fiftyfeettallrock.vol. holes in the face exceptfrom the narrowcourtyard thatthe statue wasonceprotected madeof of the rockindicate roof. Bd. Srinagar andgompas of the Lamaist church (monasteries) beginto dot the landscape. This roof had alreadydisappeared almost of it in hisdetailed A.Calcutta: Superintendent Govt. LADAKH Near roadto Lehfollowsa winding course thefoot of themountains between anda solitary. &' Essen: Gerda Schettler.Francke.. have Buddhists booksusually showthe sculpture but in recent years pious in front of it. by H. 2 andthePanjab.part I. The rectangular the sculpture.thecapital of Ladakh. dKar-rtse inscription. andthe fact thatrelatively This almostcasual remark. andthatit alsocontained in the SuruValley. I. p. p. through Driving by jeepfromKargil of theNunKun. India. 1o4. Himalaya. fig. Goldstadt-Reisefiihrer. p. Trebeck. in scholarly andguide Thephotographs by bus to Ladakh publications in its entirety. Theinhabitants thevillageof Sanku (Sanko village Karchekar.probably by a slanting when WilliamMoorcroftvisited the site in I8zo20.when the IndianGovernment lifted the ban on touristtravelto Ladakh. Pforzheim: Goldstadtverlag.my son Arnout.Proceeding fromthereto Kargilanddescribing the sitesalongthe road at toldme thattherewasa rockwitha largeBuddhist remarked: Francke sculpture "People a Tibetian I couldnot. in highrelief carved marks (Fig.

fig. The sculpture standsabouttwenty-five feet tall and coversalmostthe entireheightof the faceof the cliff.has not been carvedfrom the largemonolith. 1975.however.2. not altogether certain thatthe stipa in the headress is absent. backtowardsBarku we followedthe left bankof the SuruRiver. i. pillar.The top of its crownextends to the verytop of the cliffwhileits feetand--posare coveredby fallenrocksand otherdebrisat the bottomof the presibly-a lotus pedestal crownedfigureof a bodhisattva the futureBuddhaMaicipice. The Karchekar statue.4 Like the MulbekMaitreya.or with the handraisedfrom that positioninto the gesture madeby the Karchekar and Dras statues. The two-armed. the statueat Dras is one of thefour-armed butthe two raised outerhandsaretoo damaged us to to enable variety. All these features are well-known from numerous bronzes.The left handis loweredalongsidethe body. The folds of the dhotiare only summarily indicated. o.New York: Hacker Art Books. 38 and 39- G .makesit difficultto drawany definiteconclusions. represents treya.just prayer could be represented eitherwith the right handheld low.the crown..even thougharchaeoevidenceconnecting these statueswith the valleyof Kashmir is not logicaland epigraphical nearlyas abundantas one would wish it to be. Dras.The hair falls down over both shoulders in regularly braided plaits. narrow Theangleat whichwe view the uppersectionof the statue.c. It doesseemlikely. seemsto be lacking in theKarchekar statue.Moreover. The Maitreya features of the bronzestatues thatare sculpture displays manyof the stylistic or by Kashmiri generally thoughtto havebeenmadein Kashmir artists. 4). nos.The samegesturehas been noted in at least two bronzesthatarethoughtto havecomefromKashmir.Apparently in this areaMaitreya flower.however. the palmturnedoutwardin ddnamudra. e. its fingersgraspingthe neck of a vase decorated with floralscrolls.its palmturned inwardtowards the body. therefore. The samemudra canbe observed in a smaller of Mairepresentation a on stone one of a of four that at stand the near treya statues. Around the waist the bodhisattva wears a band consisting of two strands of beads.most at the of the has suffered from cliff. s Pratapaditya. exposed top slightly weathering. Bronzesof Kashmir.passing Heading a demolished foot bridgegave us a chanceto bridge.destination. A long scarf sweeps down from both arms to the ankles.The right handis raisedin front of the chest. 3. 7. held together by a button in the shape of a flower.Pal. p.andtheledgeis too to allowus to studyit froma distance.At the next bend a newly constructed cross the swiftly flowing SuruRiver. Thestatue canonlybeviewedfromthe pathat thebottomof the cliff. thesttfa in theheadress.s The most obviousclue to the identificationofa statue as Maitreya.thattheytoo helda stringof identify and beads a like the statueat Mulbek. From there we climbedin approximately two hours hamlets shaded the and willows trees the towards through by ubiquitous poplar village of a clusterof farmhousesencircling Karchekara solitary rock not unlikethe one at Mulbek. the gestureof "giving". Maitreyais shown wearing an elaboratecrown and profusely decoratedear ornaments. 3 (left).especially the crown. group way-side aboutfifty kilometers to the east of Mulbek.but from the faceof a steepmountain slopefacingit (Figs. and it is. The round face with puffy cheeks and protruding chin and the pronounced abdominal muscles around the navel are equally characteristicof 4 Snellgrove and Skorupski. although most of the detailsof the carvinghavebeenpreserved in all theircrispdetail. the attributes with certainty.

the sculpture. 1968. I. of it in Western world. 84b.c. of a direct the existence shows at the a to Islam converted map long ago.A.6 a hazardous of the bronzes of datable and The paucity dating piecesmakes undertaking. a geographical account. A. Les Bouddhistes Kalmiriens au Moyen Age. Stein.wascastin bronze. I875. therefore However. not open to curiousvisitors. The Jummoo and Kashmir Territories. p. source byKing upto thesky". in the style generally associated with rock sculpture it is of interestto note that monumental in Kashmir itselfno examples whereas to be foundonlyin Western Kashmir Ladakh. Kalhana's R jatarangini.Kalhana's dimensions of monumental the principal historical Rajatarangini. It does to this rock seem that the same. 6 Pal. fromthetheChamba is a 9thcentury bronze artof Kashmir. indicates thatwhatis knownas the Kashmir Karchekar style extended deeplyinto the neigh- of literary amount evidence of the Thereis a considerable Ladakh. 203). applies thatarethoughtto datefromthe 9thor Iothcentury is withbronzes A.However. p. Westminster Archibald Constable & Co. daysfromSanku Gompa. 51 -52. an areamuchless fertileandaffluent In Ladakh. legacy wasunlikely fanatics. The above quoted passagefrom Francke's book is followed by the phrase:"Another sculpture from Shinggois found picturedin Drew's book of travel".however.To findevidence Buddhist is.The nearest of the Shiitesect infiltrated adherents It abouttwo marching is Ringdom in Zanskar monument village. D. 1900. 8 Jean Nadou.when I was finallyable to consultFrederic Drew's The andKashmir it turnedout fummo Territories9 that the statuesketchedby this intrepid traveler is none otherthanthe Maitreya of Karchekar. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.a less costlyandmore theirmonumental size. arenot common in the Theclearly delineated Kashmir bronze statuary. IV.Havingno immediate accessto Drew'sbook I initiallyassumed that thereexisteda thirdstatueof this type in the Shinggovalley. vol. therefore. 9 Frederic Drew.D. By creating monumental sculpture for to be despoiled that a left of Ladakh the Buddhists durable material.8 the eclipse thataccompanied destruction in latertimes. reached which "aGreat Buddha describes forKashmir. followsthemain be more closely connectedthan is evidentto the travelerwho large statuesmay. by religious destroyed monetary gainandtoo largeto be easily of years hundreds to Islam wereconverted of the Suru Theinhabitants ago as the Valley Buddhist into the areafromthe West. 7 M. London: Edward Stanford. of to commission bronze communities Buddhist statuary mayneverhavehadthe resources in stone. However. of Western areas boring in Asia and from Kashmir Central ecclesiatics China. (early Muktapida Lalitaditya the reignof KingHarsa however. Theclosest parallel valley. of Buddhist activities Ladakh. however. in Kashmir. at this time. 257.obviously. 142 (Rajatarangini.) in his newcapital 8thcentury Parihisapura. closeststylistic affinity of Tibetand Ladakh foundtheirwayinto all corners and The easilytransportable bronzes of Mulbek of their ultimate Therockstatuary indication and no reliable there is usually origin.as thecrowflies.a victimof thewidespread it became. pp.Thetwo roads.an areawhichis. no. appears havebeenfound.kneecaps. of only35 km.andeventhoughit survived (Io89-I Io1). 7 . o. that in territory wascompletely isolated stands statue thattheMaitreya wouldseem. evident. missionary is a well-known in the andfollowedthesemissionaries Thatartistsaccompanied phenomenon Ladakh not surprising. therefore. of Buddhism the local thanthe valleyof Kashmir. glance a distance the Rasila routeacross passto Mulbekh.erected This statue.

Francke by a Ladakhiwho was conversant obviously mistook Sankhoo for Shinggo. 8 . A cursory of the face of the rock. revealed of the Karchekar Above the shoulders two apsaras. homageto this great. e. Maitreya. that the SuruValleystatuecarried a Tibetaninscription. was able to reach the site at a time of day when the sun does not cast heavy shadows over the statue. e. justlike the statueat Mulbek. The other information supplied by Francke. inspection advancing no traceof anyinscription. theirhandsfoldedin Maitreya appear them two that Beside holes indicate the statue was once protectedby a large square a~-jali.As Drew correctly identifies the statue as "Chamba"i. i. a morethorough of the area Perhaps investigation will revealthe locationof the monastery that must once have housedthe monkswho paid statueof the Buddha-to-beio. does not seemto be correcteither.one may assume that he was accompanied with Buddhisticonography. woodenroof.monumental 1o Two of the photographs accompanying this note were taken by Stuart Cary Welch who. following the directions I had given him.too briefbecause of the rapidly hour.

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