[Photo.34/(011)] Amaravati (nos. 22, 55, 68)

Photograph of three architectural and sculptural fragments [lotus disc, left side of face and breast of woman with leaves behind and undulating ?snake]. The reference numbers allocated to the pieces refer to Robert Sewell’s ‘Report on the Amaravati Tope, and Excavations on its site in 1877’ (London, 1880) in which the pieces are described.

‘No. 22. (2 ft. 4 in. by 10 ft. 6 in.), (Photographed). A small fragment of the Outer-Rail coping-stone roll-ornament, similar in general design to that depicted in F., LVI., but smaller. It is more the size of F., XCII., 5, but differs from that in having no supporter. This stone, in fact, is a new variety of the rail coping. In the upper fold is a half-disc. In the lower, where the supporter usually is, are two lotus buds with intertwining stems. The whole is so much weatherworn that it is difficult to say whether the roll was ornamented with scroll-work and patterns as it usually is. It would seem not. Again, the square entablature, usually bearing some elaborate design, is here quite plain. Another peculiarity is that though the stone is evidently from its shape perfect, yet the reverse was never sculptured at all, but left blank. The curvature at the top is complete, proving that the back has not been broken off. At present it is impossible to say to what this slab belonged. ‘Exactly at the top was a square hole containing the remains of an iron pin, showing that the caoping at this place was probably surmounted by some iron ornament.’

At this stage of the work my attention was directed to the east side of the circle, where, in turning the pillar (No. 17) which lay outside the east gate, a fragment (No. 55) was found underneath it. No. 55. (1 ft. 11 in. by 9 in.) A very clear cut well preserved fragment of one of the lotus discs of the rail. I had this photographed, but my artist does not do it justice.’

‘Two more stones (68, 69) were next found, amongst the earth at the southern clearance. ‘No. 68. (2 ft. 8 in. by 1 ft. 6 in.) This is a fragment which I think must have formed part of the sculptures of the western gate. It is a slab having a graceful female figure with hand on hip leaning against a tree, in attitude somewhat similar to that of the dancers or tree-devas, under the beams of the toran gateways at Sanchi. There is none like it amongst the marbles yet found at Amaravati.’

Robert Sewell
‘Report on the Amaravati Tope, and excavations on its site in 1877’ (London, 1880, p. 40, p. 49 and p. 50)

Faded print. Original negative not held. Part of a collection of twenty albumen prints mounted on card, with captions written in ink beneath the prints and all signed ‘R. Sewell’.