buddhist cave

The congregation listening to Buddha’s discourse.  Ajanta Caves.

A number of paintings in Ajanta are illustrations of the Buddha’s life as well as Buddhist tales (usually the Jatakas).  In some of the paintings, especially of assembled congregations, you can see a variety of costumes as well as what appear to be foreign disciples (see below). This particular one above appears to have monks’ robes as well as the patterned uttariya draped over one shoulder.

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The Ajanta Caves (अजिंठा लेणी) are about 30 rock-cut Buddhist cave monuments which date from the 2nd century BCE to about 480 or 650 CE. The caves include paintings and sculptures which are masterpieces of Buddhist religious art, with figures of the Buddha and depictions of the Jataka tales.The caves were built in two phases starting around the 2nd century BCE, with the second group of caves built around 400–650 CE according to older accounts. In 1983, the caves became the first UNESCO World Heritage Site of India.

Images in order

1. Ajanta Caves Complex with all the entrances visible.

2. Entrance to Cave 19.

3. Chaitya Griha or prayer hall in Cave 29.

4. The Buddha in a preaching pose, Cave 1.

(Aurangabad district, Maharashtra)

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Sgra-Snyan

Date:14th–16th century
Geography:Tibet
Culture:Tibetan
Medium:Carved wood, skin, gesso, gilding
Dimensions:Height: 42 15/16 in. (109 cm)
Classification:Chordophone-Lute-plucked-unfretted
Credit Line:Purchase, Clara Mertens Bequest, in memory of André Mertens, 1989Accession Number:1989.55
The Metropolitan Museum of Art



Images and description from The Metropolitan Museum of Art:  “The ancient “silk route”, running from the Mediterranean to Sian in east central China, made Central Asia a meeting place of many cultures. This lute, an extraordinary example of musical exchange between East and West, is similar to instruments played by angels depicted in seventh-century Buddhist cave paintings. It offers some insight into the development of the modern sgra-snyan. The body, with two skin-covered chambers, is a rare example of an archaic transitional form that seems to point to the Afghan robab, and various Himalayan lute types. Decorative elements, such as green-colored skins, like those of the damarn, and the portraits of Buddha and musicians, rendered on painted ivory with gold leaf, are typical of fifteenth-century Tibet. The back, fingerboard, and pegbox reveal cartouches and palmettes reminiscent of seventeenth-century Persia. Tin leafing shows through as a silvery underlayer in a worn section of the instrument. Painted gesso adheres to the surface, the result of an ancient gilding process known as adoratura. Originally, there were six strings attached to this instrument, but the pegbox was shortened to accommodate five, with a possible sixth string attached to a side peg. Despite the appearance of Buddha and his musicians, the sgra-snyan was not used in religious settings, but accompanied secular song.”  



Bodhisattva Padmapani, detail from a wall painting in cave 1, second half of the fifth century. Ajanta Caves, India.

The Ajanta Caves caves have been described by the government Archaeological Survey of India as “the finest surviving examples of Indian art, particularly painting,” and consists of about 30 rock-cut Buddhist cave monuments dating from approximately the 2nd century BCE to about 480 or 650 CE.

This segment from Gardner’s Art through the Ages: Non-Western Perspectives (2009) describes the scene shown:

The bodhisattva Padmapani sits among a crowd of devotees, both princesses and commoners. With long, dark hair handing down below a jeweled crown, he stands holding his attribute, a blue lotus flower, in his right hand. […] The artist has carefully considered the placement of the painting in the cave. The bodhisattva gazes downward at worshipers passing through the entrance to the shrine on their way to the rock-cut Buddha image in a cell at the back of the cave.

Photo courtesy & taken by Amit Rawat.

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Buddhist cave temples in Dunhuang, China. This outpost on the silk road in western China was, in medieval times, the site of complex cultural interaction as the civilizations of Eurasia collided along central Asian trade routes. These caves show the development of Chinese art and the ways in which Buddhism transformed itself as it spread throughout Asia.

Some exceptional places to visit on Earth. Part 2

26 Italie: Santa Maria Island ~ The Monastery of Santa Maria dell'Isola was built on a rocky cliff near the beach in Tropea, Italy.

France 27: The Gardens of Marqueyssac ~ Marqueyssac gardens - Belvedere of the Dordogne are in the town of Vézac in a historic park of 22 hectares.

28. Philippinnes : Labassin Waterfall Restaurant ~ This restaurant in the Philippines offers its guests to eat their feet in the water. An artificial waterfall was built for the occasion.

29 Iran: The Mosquée Nasir-ol-Molk ~ The mosque Nasir-ol -Molk is a Shiite mosque in the province of Fars in Iran. It was built from 1876 to 1888 and is full of colors.

30 Russia: Pillars Nature Park in Lena ~ These natural stone columns measure several tens of meters high and are formed by a process of erosion.

31. Thaïlande : Le Temple Blanc Wat Rong Khun ~ Wat Rong Khun is a place of worship entirely white south of Chiang Rai in Thailand.

32. Singapour : Le Parc Gardens by the Bay ~ Green space with remarkable biodiversity, built for more than 625 million. This giant park measures 101 hectares and includes three gardens.

33 United States: Kansas City Library ~ A novel architecture for the library of Kansas City, which offers a facade shaped ledgers stored.

34 Ukraine and Russia: Mount Ai-Petri ~ Ai-Petri is a mountain 1,230 meters high located in the region of Yalta in the Crimea.

35 Egypt: The Library of Alexandria ~ The Library of Alexandria was built in 1995 and cost $ 220 million. It was inaugurated in October 2002.

36 France: Le Moulin de l'Abbaye ~ Le Moulin de l'Abbaye is a luxury hotel located in Brantôme-en-Perigord in the Dordogne. It is a luxury of the Perigord.

37 Pérou: Oasis of Huacachina ~ Huacachina is a village in the Ica Region, in southwestern Peru has an oasis. In 1999, only 115 people lived there.

38 Mexico: The Marieta Islands ~ The Marieta Islands are an uninhabited archipelago off the coast of Nayarit, Mexico. It is an old military became protected national park area.

39 Sri Lanka: The lion rock Sigiriya ~ Sigiriya (Lion’s Rock) is a major archaeological site, a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

40 Portugal: Le Fort of São João Baptista ~ The Fort of São João Baptista is a seventeenth century fort located on the island of Berlengas in front of the port city of Peniche in central Portugal.

41 Canada: Montreal Botanical Garden ~ The Montreal Botanical Garden is located in Montreal, Quebec and is one of the largest botanical gardens in the world. It was created in June 1931.

42 Thailand: Phraya Nakhon Cave ~ A Buddhist temple built in the middle of the cave Phraya Nakhon Thailand is illuminated by the light of heaven.

Australie-Occidentale 43: Le lac rose of Middle Island ~ The Hillier lake on the island of Middle Island has a water pink, the cause remains unexplained. It was discovered in 1802 by a British explorer.

44 South Korea: Jeju-do Island ~ Jeju-do is a province and a sub-tropical island of South Korea oval.

France 45: The Ark Breakthrough Chartreuse ~ Discovered only in 2005, the double arch of the Breakthrough Tour is located in the Alps.

46 Turkmenistan: The Gates of Hell ~ The gate of hell (Door to Hell) is a hotbed of natural gas burning continuously since it was lit by Soviet scientists in 1971.

47 China: The sunken city of Shi Cheng ~ Qiandao Lake is based in the city of Shi Cheng, about 1300 years old, it is immersed for 53 years in the deep waters.

48. Maroc: Le Souk de Fes ~ In the souk of Fez in Morocco is one of the oldest tanneries in the world.

49 U.S.: The Fly Geyser ~ Fly Geyser is a small geyser in Washoe County, Nevada, which gives the impression of a brown ooze greenish color.

50 Belize: Le Grand Bleu Hole ~ The Great Blue Hole is an underwater cenote off the coast of Belize. It is almost circular with a diameter of 300m and 120m deep.

51 Brazil: Mount Roraima ~ The mountain also serves as the triple border point of Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana.

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Cave 19 at the Ajanta Caves, Maharashtra, India.

Ajanta contains 30 excavated rock-cut caves which belong to two distinct phases of Buddhism: the Hinayana phase (2nd century BC-1st century AD) and the Mahayana phase (5th century AD-6th century AD). These caves are considered to be one the finest examples of early Buddhist architecture, cave-paintings, and sculpture.

The Archaeological Survey of India, Aurangabad Circle, speaks specifically of Cave 19:

The small chityagriha [prayer hall] is considered one of the most perfect specimens of Buddhist art in India. The exquisitely decorated facade and beautiful interior form a grand combination of richness of detail and graceful proportion. The inscription in Cave 17 records that a feudatory prince under Vakataka King Harisena was a munificent donor of this cave, datable to the 5th century AD. It consists of a small but elegant portico, verandah, a hall, and chapels. The apsidal hall is divided into a nave, an elaborate and elongated drum, and a globular dome which stands against the apse. 

The pillars and the stupa are intricately carved with the figures of Lord Buddha and other decorative motifs. The sidewalls are also adorned with countless figures of Buddha while the ceiling is filled with painted floral motifs in which animals, birds, and human figures are cleverly interwoven. The chapel contains the panel of Nagaraja with his consort known for its serenity and royal dignity.

The first and second photos were taken by Kirk Kittell, the third is by Arian Zwegers.

Photograph of the Rameshvara Cave at Ellora, from the Curzon Collection: ‘Views of Caves of Ellora and Dowlatabad Fort in H.H. the Nizam’s Dominions’ taken by Deen Dayal in the 1890s. The spectacular site of Ellora, in Maharashtra, is famous for its series of Buddhist, Hindu and Jain cave temples excavated into the rocky façade of a cliff of basalt. The works were done under the patronage of the Kalachuri, the Chalukya and the Rashtrakuta dynasties between the sixth and the ninth centuries. The Hindu cave of Rameshvara was excavated in the late 6th century and is famous for the beauty of its sculptures. A courtyard with Nandi seated on a plinth precedes a verandah. This view shows the sensuously carved female figures that adorn the brackets on either side of the verandah pillars. On the left of the verandah there is a sculptured figure of the goddess Ganga standing on her vehicle, the makara, an aquatic monster.

The British Library