Saturday, 17 January 2015

Fayaz-Tepa in Central Asia (Uzbekistan)



Larry Stout sent me the following mail:
You know the famous paintings of "Tocharian donors" at the Kizil caves near Kucha, Xinjiang, which are said to date from the sixth century CE.  Today, while exploring on Google Earth, I stumbled onto images of a strikingly similar painting from an archaeological site called Fayaz Tepa at Termez, Uzbekistan), said to date from the first century BCE -- thus some 600 years older.  However, the (rather imaginative) restoration of the latter "donors" shows them apparently bringing tribute to a king, whose feet, like those of the tribute-bearers are turned out, as those of Kanishka are shown on Kushan coins.

I was not familiar with this painting and this site and looked it up at the internet and found the following quite beautiful pictures from Nicola e Pina.















Background information about Fayaz- Tepa in Central Asia (Uzbekistan)

Fayaz-Tepa, Termez
From ancient times the territory of Central Asia has been a crossing point not only of many caravan roads and ways, but also a place where different religions coexisted in ancient times: Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Manichaeism. At present, several Buddhist temples survived in Uzbekistan. Among the most famous are Airatam, Kara-Tepa and Fayaz-Tepa.
Fayaz-Tepa complex was discovered in 1963 by the archaeologist L. Albaum during excavations near the Buddhist temple on the Kara-Tepa hill in the heart of the old Termez. This temple complex is characterized by rich paintings and well-preserved sculptures. The complex is U-shaped series of corridors, cells and sanctuaries. Separately, there is a Buddhist dagoba, which is also of great interest.
Fayaz-Tepa, Termez
Fayaz-Tepa, Termez
Fayaz-Tepa, Termez

The building itself can be divided into three parts. One part is accommodation and ancillary buildings. Another one was the original dining room with kitchen, and a third one was used for performance of religious rites. Fayaz-Tepa is not only an iconic monument of Buddhism in Central Asia, but also of great value as one of the few monuments of Buddhist pictural art, which adorns the walls of the complex.
The walls along the temple were covered with paintings depicting the Buddha image variations. The walls of the sanctuary were decorated with images and story lines, one of which is the image of the two Buddhas, with images of women on both sides. The fact that the image of Buddha in Fayaz-Tepa is considered one of the most ancient images to have survived to the present date, and dates back to 1st century BC is of special importance.
Fayaz-Tepa, Termez
Fayaz-Tepa, Termez
Fayaz-Tepa,Termez
The sculptures discovered by archaeologists in Fayaz-Tepa are also noteworthy. In particular, this is the statue of Buddha sitting under the sacred bodhi tree, and two monks standing on both hands. All this is included in the arch, resting on Corinthian columns. The sculpture was carved from limestone and covered with gold leaf. Today, this sculpture is one of the most valuable exhibits of the State Museum of History of Uzbekistan.
A giant dagoba of 10 meters high was discovered near the temple. There is a small dagoba inside of it of 3 meters high. This finding dates back to the 1st century AD.
In the 3rd century BC Termez was invaded by the Sassanid army, resulting in destruction of many Buddhist temples, including Fayaz-Tepa. At the time of archaeological excavations the building was heavily damaged and was under a huge layer of sand and dust. Today Fayaz-Tepa hosts a museum, research and restorations are underway.

Fayaz-Tepa pictures

Fayaz-Tepa, Termez
Fayaz-Tepa, Termez
Fayaz-Tepa, Termez
Fayaz-Tepa, Termez
Fayaz-Tepa, Termez
Fayaz-Tepa, Termez



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