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Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 5, p. 136.


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136


AJANTA VILLAGE


when they were probably executed. The human figure is represented in
every possible variety of position, displaying some slight knowledge of
anatomy: and attempts at foreshortening have been made with surprising
success. The hands are generally well and gracefully drawn, and rude
efforts at perspective are to be met with. Besides paintings of Buddha
and his disciples and devotees, there are representations of streets,
processions, battles, interiors of houses with the inmates pursuing their
daily occupations, domestic scenes of love and marriage and death,
groups of women performing religious austerities; there are hunts, men
on horseback spearing the wild buffalo; animals, from the huge elephant
to the diminutive quail; exhibitions of cobras, ships, fish, &c. The
small number of domestic utensils depicted is somewhat remarkable,-
the common earthen waterpot and Iota, a drinking cup, and one or two
other dishes, a tray, an elegantly shaped sort of jug having an oval
body and long thin neck with lip and handle, together with a stone and
roller for grinding condiments, being all that are observable. The same
lack of weapons of war, either offensive or defensive, is also to be
noticed. Swords, straight and crooked, long and short, spears of various
kinds, clubs, bows and arrows, a weapon resembling a bayonet reversed,
a missile like a quoit with cross-bars in the centre, and shields of different
form, exhaust the list. There is also a thing which bears a strong resem-
blance to a Greek helmet, and three horses are to be seen yoked abreast,
but whether they were originally attached to a war-chariot cannot now be
determined. The paintings have been in the most brilliant colours-
the light and shade are very good; they must have been executed upon
a thick layer of stucco. In many places, the colour has penetrated to a
considerable depth.'
Of the date of these paintings it is difficult to form a very definite
estimate, nor are they all of the same age. The scenes represented are
generally from the legendary history of Buddha and the Jatakas, the
visit of Asita to the infant Buddha, the temptation of Buddha by Mara
and his forces, Buddhist miracles, the Jataka of king Sibi, legends of the
Nagas, hunting scenes, battle-pieces, the carrying off of the relics of
Ceylon, &c.
The cave-temples and monasteries of Ajanta furnish a continuous
narrative of Buddhist art during 800 years, from shortly after the reign
of Asoka to shortly before the expulsion of the faith from India. The
oldest of them are assigned to about 200 B.c.; the most modern cannot
be placed before the year A.D. 600. For many centuries they enable us
to study the progress of Buddhist art, and of Buddhistic conceptions,
uninfluenced by Hinduism. The chief interest of the latest chaitya,
about A.D. 600, is to show how nearly Buddhism had approximated to
Brahmanism, before the convulsions amid which it disappeared. The
liberality of the Indian Government had enabled Major Gill to take up
his residence in Ajanta, and to prepare a magnificent series of facsimiles
from the frescoes. These unfortunately perished in the fire at the
Crystal Palace in i860, but reductions of two of the more important of



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