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152 (Dec., 1927), pp. 88-89 Published by: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4170081 Accessed: 18/11/2009 23:48
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MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS BULLETIN
A Dated Buddhist Painting from with bears a Chinese date which corresponds to Tun-huang A. D. 975. It was originally a votive hanging Chinaproper the oasisof dedicated to the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara lies westemmost of with Tun-huang itstown likename. Situated (Kuan-yin) by the nuns of the Buddhist temple of whichconnected FarEast Ling-hsiu-ssu. Avalokitesvara is here shown with the on theoldhighway the Asiaand thecountries bordering six arms, within a circle, seated on the lotus throne withCentral and seas, Caspian Mediterranean the Tun-huang which rises from a small tank representinga pond. of was placeof thecivilizations Of the six arms, the firstpair is uplifted, supporting district themeeting more EastandWest-a linkestablished thantwo in each open palm the sun and moon respectively, the the former containing the traditional three-legged thousand yearsago. Sachiu(or Sha-chou), by city firstChinese to be visited MarcoPolo in bird and the latter the cassia tree, hare, and mortar afterone month's journey and pestle. The second pair of hands is in the thirteenth century, of the is by across "Desert Lop," thename which vyAhkyana mudra (the "signof exposition"),raised was Tun-huang thenknown. MarcoPolo noted to the breast, each hand holding a long-stemmed of and " in "Sachiu a number monasteries abbeys lotus flower. The third pair is held at the side&, each hand forming possibly the varada mudra and with withimages thronged worshippers. filled did notsee the Buddhist (the "sign of bountifulness"). On the crown is a however, The Venetian, for in sanctuaries theirsplendor; in this region seated figure of a Dhyani Buddha. The halos the was Buddhism in its full gloryduring Wei, behind the body and the head are bordered with and centuries).flames. Over the large circle a canopy is suggested (5th Sung T'ang, early periods to 1Oth knownto have by conventionalizedflowers and leaves ornamented Of the manyancient temples there only existedin Tun-huang, remains a group with beaded garlands,while an altarwith a draped cut a of chapels in thesideof a cliff, few milesto valance, on which are vessels for offerings,may be of of collectivelyseen in front of the Bodhisattva. On either side the southeast thetown Tun-huang, of calledtheCh'ien-fo-tung (Caves the Thousand of the Bodhisattvastands a young person, the one these on the proper right labelled " Good Young Boy," Buddhas). A few hundredin number, from fifthto the eleventh the cen- and the one on the left " Evil Young Boy," each dating grottos, and with frescos stillpreserve holding a scroll. The story of these princes, who are tury, decorated statuesin stone and clay.* are brothers,is related in the Buddhist scriptures.* Buddhist numerous one led Two expeditions, British, by Sir Aurel Briefly, the boys set out together to get possession underProfessorof the all-wish-granting-jewel (cintdmani). The Steinin 1907, the otherFrench, thesecavesand good prince acquires it, but the evil one, after Paul Pelliotin 1908, explored of and blindinghis brother,steals the preciouspearl. Upon both recovered largequantities paintings from manuscripts a nichein one of the chapels, recovering his sight, the good prince saves his Pelliotbelieves walledupin brotherfrompunishmentat the hands of their father. was whichProfessor 1035. In 1899 (?) the niche was accidentallyThe good prince proves to be S'akya-munihimself but and discovered its contents disclosed; after and the evil one, Devadatta. There are four detached scenes, two on either to at had specimens been submitted the Viceroy it inLan-chou, was againsealedand remained side the large glory. These scenes illustrate subuntil1907. The greatfindsof Stein jects taken fromthe suitraMiao-fa-lien-hua-ching.t accessible not andPelliot Tun-huang onlyrevealthe state The upper scene at the properright shows a young at in of civilization thatpartof Asia,so littleknown man on a conventionalized peak, leaning forward; to untilnow,butalsobring lightactual specimensbelow, a young man standing amid flames. The from of of religious dating theclosing art centuries upper scene at the properleft depicts a young man on the edge of a precipice ready to jump; below, millenniumtheChristian of thefirst era. Because thetransfer London Paris a young man risingfromthe water. These scenes, of to of and in sucha large number theTun-huang of manuscripts the order just described, refer respectively to the it to and paintings, has been thoughtdifficult following passages in the salra : " If one who is on the peak of MountSumeru be of assemble a few examples thisancient even art; pushed down by anotherand think of the power of but by good fortunethe Museumhas lately threedated paintings Tun-huang, Kuan-yin,then shall he stoplike the sunfirmin the air." from acquired " a pit wicked man oneof which described is below. Thesepaintings, with If one thrown intothinkofof fireby a of Kuan-yin, the intentof killing the power withtwoothers been in the whichhave together then shall the fire-pitturninto a pond." of form for possession the Museum someyears, the "If one chased by a wicked man fall from the of it Diamond Mountain thinkof the powerof Kuan-yin, nucleus a collection which, is to be hoped, and then shall not even one hairbe hurt." maybe augmented. " If one happento fall intoa hugeoceanand, exposed The paintingt Tun-huang from reproduced here-
*For detailedaccountsand reproductions, Serindia and Ruins see of Desert Cathay,by Aurel Stein,and Les Grottesde Touen-houang, by Paul Pelliot. tReg. No. 27.570. Height, .880 millimeters (34X8inches); width, .586 millimeters V inches). This paintingmusthave been one of a (23' few specimens which were carriedto Lan-chouwhen the " greathidden in deposit"was discovered 1899, and was subsequently presented the to and late Tuan Fang, Viceroyof Kiangsu a celebrated collector.
to the danger of meetingdragons,fishes, and demons, think of the power of Kuan-yin, then shall even the waves not destroyhim."
tChap. 25. Chap.25.
Chap. 6; Hsien-yu-yin-yuan-ch.ng,
MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS BULLETIN
The lower registerincludes,in the center, a votiveinscription, dated 975, in which the donors of the painting offerthanksto Avalokitesvara a for bountiful for harvest, enablingthem to repairthe temple,and for his aid to them in attaininghigh monasticorders. Then follows a prayerto and praiseof the Bodhisattva. To the properrightof this inscription appearsone of the donors,a nun seated on a pedestal in front of trees,holding a censerand attended by a young nun and a girl. According to the accompanying legend thischief a figurerepresents Chieh-ching, nunof the superior orderat the templeLing-hsiu-ssu, belongedto who the Li familyand who executedthisvotivepicture. On the otherside of the inscription seen another is donor, Ming-chieh,also a nun of high order of the same temple,seated on a mat before a tree, and attendedby a girl. holdinga lotusblossom
The painting shows that the preliminary sketch in faint black having been made on figured silk so (patterns smalland delicate are hardlydiscemible), the detailswere then filledwith water-colors; then the outlineswere drawn in red and black. The predominating colors are shades of redand yellowish,brownish, purplish deep and light are green;the othercolors white,black,and yellow. The painting not by any meansexecutedwith is the skillof an accomplished artist, comingas it for, it does fromremote Tun-huang, represents primarily lies a provincial art. Its importance in the fact that of it embodiesthe tradition a pictorial - the art exgreatartof the T'ang- of which undisputed are amples yet too few. There can be no question, however, that this is a well-documented painting to of greatimportance the Museumcollection. K. T.
Landscape with Two Fir Trees HoratioGreenough CurtisFund
and challengedall who have sought to wear the of as of laurels the Dutch master interpreters nature. MONG theimportant recently prints acquired In the 1520's there was no blazed trail in by the Museum Albrecht Altdorfer's Land- landscapeetching. There was indeed very little then scape with Two Fir Treesdeservesa passing etching. The medium in itsawkwardinfancy bothon account itshistorical in the had only justbeen taken overfromthe armourers of notice, place of art development landscape and as a highly and theirpracticeof decorating weapons. Matesuccessful pioneer effortby the most versatile rialswere crudeand haphazardly used. Engravers of Durer'scontemporaries. landscapes The which trainedto the preciselayingof lines on wood or Rembrandt about hundred a produced later copperapparently not relish the unaccustomed did years have rightly to commanded admiration the freedomof the needle or the vagaries the of attendant student the respectful and attention the public biting. As earlyas 15 15 Durerhad executedan of overa considerable five period. Their"modernity"etchingon iron,subsequently producing others, has long been a hackneyed with his more catchword, whilein but the mediumseemed at variance method essence haveconsistently and of they inspired methodicalturn of mind. The signature Urs
A Landscape Etching by Altdorfer
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