« السابقةمتابعة »
A large number of the photographs represent architectural details and floral scrolls of much importance as illustrations of ancient art-designs in this country, and are well worthy of careful study. There are others representing scenes in the legendary life of Buddha, which are of considerable value in connexion with the antiquity of the legends which they illustrate. While a few depict scenes from private life, or state pageantry, which afford interesting details regarding the manners, customs, habits, social condition, and intercourse of foreigners with the people of Western India, two thousand years ago.
Messrs. Ralph and Grisley were the first to notice the existence of foreigners in these frescoes. In their animated and scenic correspondence, mention is repeatedly made of foreigners as distinct from the natives. In one place they say: "Here is a lovely face, a Madonna face. What eyes! Sho looks towards the moon. Observe, these are Hindu faces-nothing foreign."* Elsewhere, "Observe that Abyssinian black prince seated on a bed-remark his ornaments. Now the woman seated on his left knee whom he embraces is as fair as you or I. Did these fellows get Georgian slaves ?" Again : "Here are evidently three beauties in this apartment-one an African, one copper-coloured, one of a European complexion. Yes; and how frequently we see these intermixed. See this, R. is a fair man, a eunuch." Again, “How often we see people of three complexions in the same panel! Now this is the most extraordinary thing we have found. Here are three placid portraits-they are Chinese. Nothing can be plainer;-observe the style of their hair;—the women have locks brought down in ringlets over their faces, and falling on to the neck, like some of the Hampton Court beauties." The writers did not, however, attempt to define the character of these foreigners, in any detail. It will not be uninteresting, therefore, to examine at length the peculiarities of a few of the figures shown in the photographs. The first picture I have to notice is a court-scene on the south side of the cave No. I. In Messrs. Ralph and Grisley's paper it is thus described : “Here is a fair man of full age, dressed in a robe and cap, like some monk or abbot. Here is, next to him, a half-naked Brahman, copper-coloured, with shaven crown, and the single lock on his head. Here is a man presenting him with a scroll on which something is written. He is in a crowded court,-he has come to an audience." In the original this picture measures 15′ × 6'-6". (Plate II.) It represents a large audience chamber with colonnaded side aisles, and a large portal in front. The room is carpeted with some stuff bearing sprigs on a black, or dark-coloured, ground. On the centre is a charpai or bedstead, which serves the purpose of a throne. It has four feet of the ordinary modern make, with a tape-woven top, such as is to be met with in every decently furnished house in northern India in the present day. Over it is a mattrass of striped cloth, and on the off side a large pillow or takiá, having behind * Ante, Vol. V, p. 558.
it an ornamented head-piece shaped like a corona. A king or chief is seated, squatting on this throne in the usual oriental style, dressed in a flowing dhuti or body-cloth, a chúdar tied round the waist, and a tunic of some kind whose character is not apparent. He wears a rich heavy crown, bracelets and necklaces, one of the last being worn athwart the chest, very like a Bráhmanical cord. The face and parts of the arms and chest are destroyed or smudged over. In front of the throne there is a man seated, holding an ox-tail chauri, and having in front of him a curious ornament, shaped like a cornucopia. To the right there are four other persons seated on the ground, one of them having in front a tray placed on a tripod stand. The pose of the person is like that of a Bráhman engaged in worship. Behind and on the two sides of the throne, there are several persons, officers of state, courtiers, body-guard, and menials,-standing in different attitudes, some dressed in dhuti only, others with tunics or made dresses, the character of which, owing to the smudgy condition of the picture, cannot be satisfactorily made out, except in one case in which a pair of close-fitting trousers and a chaplan are unmistakable. Some are arined with clubs, and one, near the entrance to the hall, upholds a standard. Their shaven chin, oriental head-dress, dark complexion, and characteristic features leave no doubt in my mind that they are all Indians. Among them there are four females, one standing behind the throne, and three seated on the carpet on the left side. In marked contrast to these are three persons standing in front of the king, and four others at a little distance. The foremost among them has a sugar-loaf-shaped hat with a black band, a large flowing gown of white stuff, a striped jacket, and a dagger held in a cloth girdle. The lower part of the gown or long coat is partially covered by the figure of the Bráhman engaged in worship, but from the portion which is visible, it is evident that it extended below the middle of the leg. Between the girdle and the lower edge of the jacket there is a waist-band buckled in front. Round his neck there is a necklace with a large locket. He is in the attitude of making a courtesy to the king, with his right hand passed under the jacket and placed on the left breast, and the left holding out a folded letter. The second person, dressed in the same style, but with a black jacket, is standing with folded hands in token of respect. His hat has no band. The third has a Persian helmet, with a crescent on top and a rosette on one side. He is bearing a tray full of presents of some kind. At a little distance from the last, just entering the hall, there is another person of the same nationality, bearing a tray, and outside the door there are two or three others who are evidently servants of the persons who have entered the hall, and belonging to the same nationality. The lower part of the gowns of these is not visible, but it must be the same as in the case
of the foremost figure. The coat of the man with a helmet is probably short.
The complexion of these persons, except the first, is markedly fair. Studying the group carefully the conclusion appears inevitable that it represents an embassy from a foreign country. The foremost person is the ambassador, who is presenting his credentials in open court to the Indian potentate. Behind him is his secretary, and then follow the bearers of the nazr or presents from the foreign court.
But whence is this embassy? and what is the nationality of the persons who compose it? it? We are aware of no Indian race or tribe which differed so materially and markedly in complexion, features, and dress from the natives of the country as represented in the court. From beyond India on the north and the east, there was no nation which, two thousand years ago, could have prescnted such a group. We must look to the North-West, therefore, for the birth-place of the ambassador and his suite. Now on that side we had the Afghans, the Bactrians, the Scythians, and the Persians. But the Afghans never had the peculiar sugar-loaf hat, nor the flowing gown, nor the crescented helmet. Their features too, were, as shall be presently shown, coarser and rude. The Bactrian and the Scythian dresses, to judge from numismatic evidence-the only evidence available in the case,—were also different. The coat was short, the trousers tight-fitting, and the head-gear very unlike a sugar-loaf hat. The Persian dress, however, as we now have it, is the exact counterpart of what appears in the picture. The hat, the gown and the jacket are identically the same.
The helmet appears repeatedly in the sculptures of Khorsábád and Nineveh, and the features and the beard are in no way different. We may, therefore, safely conclude that the picture represents a group of Persians, either merchants, or an embassy from Persia to an Indian court, probably the latter, as the letter in the hand of the foremost person would be redundant in a merchant. I am not aware of any mention of such an embassy in Buddhist religious history; but I have read but a small portion of Buddhist literature, and as it is abundantly evident that the frescoes of Ajantá were not confined to representations of religious history, it is not necessary to hunt up any relationship with it of Buddhist legends. Nor is it material to know whether the representation is historical or an ideal one. In either case it shows that the Indians of old had free intercourse with the Persians, and were thoroughly familiar with their features and dress. Literary evidence on this subject may be had in abundance in Sanskrit literature, but it is not necessary to adduce it here.
The second scene I have to describe is a domestic one, and three editions of it occur in the collection of photographs before me. There is no indication, however, to show whence they have been taken. The scales attached