A horseman with offering bowl

from Dandān-Uiliq at Khotan, Tarim Basin


p248    Amidst these conventional designs there appeared on the outside of the cella wall facing south a fresco which, though much effaced, attracted my interest as evidently representing some sacred legend, perhaps of a local character. It is just visible in Plate III to the left in the shadow. It showed three rows of youths riding Bactrian camels or else dappled horses, four or five in each row, each holding a cup in his outstretched right hand, while above one of the riders a bird is swooping down on this offering. The popularity of the subject is attested by my subsequent discovery in other shrines of the site of the well-preserved painted tablet D. VII. 5 (Plate LIX), and of the panel D. X. 5 (see Plate LXII), on both of which a similar scene is figured6.

6 See below, sec. vi.

p261    It is interesting to find in three of the panels subjects treated which are known to us likewise from paintings discovered in another shrine of Dandān-Uiliq. The comparison enables us to realize to what extent details of pictorial representation had become fixed even where of no apparent mythological importance. On the reverse of D. X. 5 (see Plate LXII) we meet with the scene of the horseman and bird to which reference has already been made in connexion with a fresco of D. II. A comparison of this panel with the far better preserved one D. VII. 5 (Plate LIX) shows that, notwithstanding the considerable difference in artistic execution and care, both must be directly or indirectly derived from the same prototype. The pose of rider and horse is identical in both; the uniformity of treatment extends to the dress and accoutrements and even the saddlery. The high sugar-loaf shaped cap with its 'vandyked' corners is borrowed from the camel-riding figure of D. VII. 5. Leaving other details for mention in connexion with the latter panel, attention may be called to the distinctly Persian look of both rider and horse.

p300         Section viii List of Objects excavated or found at Dandān-Uiliq              [Chap. IX

D. VII. D. X. 5. Painted wooden panel.
REVERSE : Horseman (very Persian) on dappled grey horse to R. p. Tight-fitting, long-sleeved under-garment. Short-sleeved upper-garment reaching to knees. Top-boots. Belt, and long, straight sword slung by two slings to belt. Saddle rising in front and back. Numdah, from under which passes rope-like girth. Simple bridle and surcingle. The pose of the horse is that of prototype D. vit. 5, and similar to usual Persian tiles of princes hawking. L. p. hand holds lightly single rein; R. hand upraised holds a patera. Cap high and of sugar-loaf shape, with edge turned up and 'vandyked.' Face, three-quarters to right, white and plump. Features delicate. Nose straight. Hair black, slightly bushy. Nimbus. Ear small, with small black earring. Two wrinkles on neck. Flying slightly downwards and towards figure, an unmistakable wild duck (black), with beak slightly opened. Indications of hilly country or sandhills. Flesh white. Under-garment yellow ; coat greyish pink. Cap, patera, saddle, white. Numdah, nimbus, yellow. Sword, hair, and all outlines, black. 11" x 5¼", ½" thick. See Plate LXII.

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