Southern Gateway (Exterior)

 

This photo shows a closer up shot of the southern gateway.

These gateways are all identifiable by particular motifs; the eastern gateway is supported by four lions. 

November 2005

 

Here's a close up shot of the southern gateway's upper torana (arch).  Many of these motifs seem purely decorative (birds and flowers), but the center shows a female figure over which two elephants are raising their trunks.  This a reference to the Buddha's birth, after which streams of water fell from the sky to cool and clean his mother.   The Buddha's birth is one of the four great events in his life (along with enlightenment, first teaching, and demise), and so the traditional descriptions of it were marked with appropriately supernatural events. 

 

Here's a close-up of the middle arch of the eastern gateway (shown above).  According to Mitra (1965: 39), this panel depicts King Ashoka's visit to the Ramagrama stupa.  Ashoka had opened up seven of the eight original stupas housing the Buddha's relics, in order to distribute the relics to stupas he had built, but was frustrated at Ramagrama, which was guarded by naga deities.  Here Ashoka and his retinue are on the right side of the stupa, and the naga king and his retinue on the left (the naga king's halo of snakes is visible at right center, marked by a red line insert). 


 
 

This image, from the lowest torana arch of the southern gateway, seems purely decorative.  It is also clearly missing a piece, and this flaw--one of the few visible places where the monument has not been completely reconstructed--puts me in awe of the job the ASI has done.  According to reports, when reconstruction began all the gateways had completely fallen down, and yet they have been put back together as if they have always been that way. 


 

 
The image, which is directly below the lion capital on the left side, depicts the Buddha (symbolized by a wheel on a pillar) receiving homage from devotees both celestial and terrestrial (including animals). 

The pillar on which the wheel rests suggests the inscriptions of Ashoka, which were inscribed on pillars and rock faces throughout his empire.  The pillars were placed on the main highways in the empire, and the rock inscriptions were placed at the borders. 

November 2005

 

This scene was directly below the one up above, and depicts a royal procession.  Mitra (1965: 38) reports that the carvings depict a number or royal visits and procession, although the king in this particular one is not identified directly. 

November 2005

On to Next Page (Southern Gateway, Interior)

 

Introduction East Gate:  Exterior / Interior West Gate: Exterior / Interior Final Shots
South Gate: Exterior / Interior North Gate: Exterior / Interior

 

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Last modified 27 December 2005