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Padmapani Mural, Ajanta Cave No. 1

This is an impressive, and relatively well-preserved, mural from the eastern-most of Ajanta's caves, cave number one. Cave number one is not from Ajanta's earliest phase of excavation, despite it's location. It probably dates sometime around 470 CE. The subject matter of this mural, the Bodhisattva Padmapani, clearly places the creator or patron on the Mahayana side of the contentious Hinayana/Mahayana divide.

 

The painters did not paint directly on the walls of these rock-cut caves. Instead, the surface of the rock in the caves was chiseled and roughened, then a plaster of hay, lime, clay and dung applied. Pigments (from minerals and plant sources) were then applied to the still wet plaster, and sometimes a stucco veneer added for sheen. The murals have held up remarkably well for their age, though large portions of most murals have flaked away over the centuries.

 

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Taken on December 18, 2007