« PreviousContinue »
for fixing woodwork. There was formerly a rock-path past the end of the gallery, leading to steps which ascend the hill; but the first part of this path has slipped down the precipice, and the communication is cut off.
Of the numerous topes in this gallery, the ruins of the large stone one have been fully explored, and many of the brick ones have been cleared ; and the results obtained are figured in the accompanying drawings.
The large stone tope, in 1853, presented the appearance of a heap of dust and stones decaying into bluish-coloured earth, which had probably not been disturbed for ages. It was noticed that one or two of the stones were covered with small sculptured figures, and the whole of the heap was carefully turned over and cleared away, in the search for further sculptures. The result was the discovery of the lower part of a large tope, built of stone, differing from the neighbouring rocks, and of considerable architectural pretensions, as indicated in the accompanying plan and section.
This stone tope has been a sixteen-sided polygon for a greater height than the present ruins, and above that it must have been circular. At various heights, it has been surrounded by tiers of sculpture, which may conveniently he called “ friezes," and remains of seven of these have been found among the ruins, all of which have been figured, excepting some ten groups of the lower frieze, which remain standing in their original positions. Figure 1 is the only specimen drawn of the lowest frieze, which occupies the position marked A on the section of the tope; most of the other groups in this frieze resemble figures 15 to 18, but are of larger size. Figures 2 and 3 are remains of the frieze B, representing griffins' heads, with a few human figures ; it is possible that figures 4, 5, and 6, representing wild and tame animals classified into groups, may belong to this frieze, or they may be portions of a higher one. Figure 7 is a specimen of the frieze of ornaments moulding C. The portion of the frieze D now standing is plain, but it is possible that figures 8 to 14 may have formed some portion of this frieze, as the size of stones is about the same ; otherwise they must have formed part of a higher frieze. The groups on this frieze are of a more diversified character than the others : figures 8 and 9 appear to represent offerings made to two superior beings with peculiar lotusshaped head-dresses : in one instance of a horse whose master kneels alongside, and in the other of a boy held up in the air by a male and female, while another male brandishes a large knife, as if about to sacrifice the boy. It has been conjectured that this group may represent
a human sacrifice ; but it might admit of other conjectures, and it may
; be observed that the attitude of the divinity appears to forbid the act. The blank space on figure 9 is covered with faint traces of an inscription visible when the light falls at an acute angle upon the surface, but too much decayed to be legible. Figure 10 represents the only sculpture cut in durable stone; it is a group of warriors and women of doubtful import: the other groups 11 to 14 are much mutilated, but represent human beings with horses, elephants, trees, and lotuses. Figures 15 to 18 represent portions of an upper frieze, no portion of which is now standing, each of the groups consists of a sitting figure with two male attendants, and there have been two groups on each side of the polygon, separated by columus of the Elephanta order ; these sculptures are more rudely executed than the rest. Figures 19 and 20 represent two other ornamental friezes, one of festooned drapery, the other of rosettes.
All these sculptures have (at some period after the building of the tope) been covered with a thin coat of white plaster, which effectually concealed all the fine lines of the sculpture; this was probably done when the projecting parts began to decay, and has no doubt tended towards the preservation of the sculpture. It was by picking the remains of this plaster out of the hollows, that the outlines of the figures were ascertained in the more decayed specimens. Upon this white plaster the features of the figures were painted in red lines, not always corresponding with the original features. At a later date, and after the lower sculptures had become dilapidated, a circular brick moulding, surrounding the basement, was added, so as to cover up the lower two friezes ; this brickwork was likewise covered with a thin coating of white plaster, and its erection no doubt marks the epoch of a thorough and cheap repair of the whole edifice.
Besides the sculptures, three flat segmental stones were found among the ruins, bearing portions of an inscription on their circular faces; these are figured as Nos. 54, 55, and 56 of the Kanheri inscriptions, and the stones probably formed a part of the upper circular portion of the tope, but below the level, where it began to round off into a cupola : many plain stones were also found among the ruins, of the proper shape for forming portions of the cupola. The stone moulding, figure 21, was found during a later search among the dust surrounding the tope; it has been a part of the polygonal portion, and bears an inscription in Arabic letters, cut in vertical lines, and without diacritical points; the letters are finely but superficially cut, like those in the inscription on the three stones abovementioned, and the four lines copied constitute the whole inscription.
The tope was probably built solid, the inner portion being of stone obtained from the neighbouring rocks; but it had been formerly broken open, to the extent shown in the section, and the
hole O (cut in the rock) had been emptied of its relics, as also the shallower receptacle S, and the rough stone cover of one of these depositories for relics was found among the ruins, having a square hollow sunk into its lower side.
The foundations of all the brick topes that have been cleared have the form shown in the drawing: they are of three sizes, 6 feet, 5 feet 3 inches, and 4 feet 6 inches in diameter at the bottom; and are built solid, of large flat segmental bricks (shaped in moulds) on the outside, and of square flat bricks within. All the brickwork has been covered with a thin coat of white plaster, which does not appear to have been painted. As eight of these topes were carefully searched down to the rock without any relics being found, it is probable that the place of deposit was in the cupola, which is destroyed in every instance. In two of the cleared topes a small plain stone was found occupying the place of a portion of two courses of the brickwork just above the mouldings, and this probably existed in ail; a similarly shaped stone was found among the brick débris between the topes, which had an inscription on its circular face; this is No. 58 of the Kanheri Inscriptions. Many square stones cut in steps, and with a square hole through them, have been found among the brick débris, and evidently form ornamental tops for these topes. The number of foundations cleared and distinctly traced amounts to 54, and probably about 50 more foundations of these brick topes remained buried. It seems likely that these topes have contained the ashes of the priesthood, and that this gallery has been the general necropolis of the caves.