Oh! Lotus-leaf, I dreamt that all the earth,
Held naught more pure than thee, held naught more true;
Why, then, when on thee rolls a drop of dew,
Pretend that 'tis a gem of priceless worth? —Ancient Hindu Peom
Ice-flakes are falling fast
Through the chilly air, and now
Yonder trees with snow-bloom laden
Do assume the wild plum's guise,
With their mass of snowy flowers
Gladdening winter's dreary time.
Lightly woven must the garments be,
Garments of mist that clothe the coming spring;
In bold disorder see them fluttering,
Soon as the zephyr breathes above the lea .
But in the autumn tide
I cull the scarlet leaves and love them dear,
And bid the green leaves stay, with many a tear,
All on the fair hill-side;
No time so sweet as that. —Ancient Japanese Poem.
Before passing to Hindustan and its monuments, some reference may be made to the art of the Phoenicians and Hebrews, though this is a subject that need not here detain us; for the civilization of the former was essentially industrial, such art as they possessed being borrowed from the Egyptians and Babylonians, while for their architecture the men of Judea depended largely on the Tyrians, a monotheistic religion and the strictness of the Mosaic code forbidding the representation of deities in sculptural or pictorial forms. The first Hebrew temple was the tabernacle or tent erected in the wilderness from plans of divine revelation, as they believed, and from these they departed but little in other religious edifices. Thus, except that it was double the size, the design for the Holy of Holies in the temple which Solomon built was identical with the one in the tabernacle. The building itself, though surrounded with a spacious court, was of no great size, and intended chiefly for a shrine and for the safekeeping of the sacred vessels of gold and silver. Of the interior the principal ornaments were the golden plates which overlaid the walls, adorned with the figures of cherubim and with carvings of flowers and trees, the winged cherubim of cedar which guarded the holy place being also covered with gold. In the second temple, built after the captivity, the only change to be noted was in the less costly materials and the absence of the splendid decorations and equipments which made the fane of Solomon the wonder of the world. In the third and last temple the original form was again restored, except that wings were added to the facade, giving it the form of a cube with a side of 100 cubits, the outer courts being increased in keeping with Roman ideas of architectural magnificence.
Of the aboriginal inhabitants of India there are neither written nor hieroglyphic records, all that tells of their existence being the circles and slabs of stone beneath which their dead were buried, with the remains of flint axes and other weapons and implements of the rudest construction, showing that they formed one of the earliest links in the chain of primeval races.
It was not until the advent of Aryan tribes from the plateaus of central Asia that civilization was first introduced into this great peninsula, extending in compact and unbroken mass from one of the largest and loftiest mountain ranges in the world far southward into the Indian Ocean. Driven by their conquerors into woodland and mountain recesses, there the natives remained for centuries, like animals dwelling in forest or cave; yet not all remained in barbarism, for even in the Vedic hymns, which speak of the aborigines as Dasyus or goblins, mention is made of their castles and fortresses, while the earliest of authentic records speak of some of the most powerful dynasties as of non-Aryan descent. Later came successive hosts of invaders; the Greeks, the Scythians, the Tartars, the Mohammedans, the Dutch, the English, the French, thus forming, as it were, a perfect museum of races, affording boundless opportunities for the study of man and his monuments.
The most ancient of Hindu temples were hewn out of caves, some of them, as at Karli, Ellora, and Elephanta, serving also as monasteries; but instead of belonging to prehistoric ages, as was formerly supposed, recent explorations show that none are much older than 200 BC, while many date from the seventh and eighth, and the most recent even from the twelfth century of our era. Of the cave-temples at Karli, near the city of Bombay, probably the earliest of a thousand or more, both Buddhist and Brahminical, one is in the shape of a basilica with circular apse and aisles divided by rows of columns, others being in the form of a square with a small oval chamber at the extremity. In the vicinity of Ellora the surfaces of Granite Mountains have been excavated for a distance of several miles, the structures being often of two stories and with the ceilings rent asunder, so as to permit open courtyards in the heart of the mountain. Most magnificent among them, and one of the finest specimens of Hindu workmanship, is the Kailasa temple, sunk into the solid rock to a depth of 270 feet and with more than half that width, yet for the most part open to the sky, and with porches, halls, colonnades, and columnar decorations all as complete as though it were built on the level ground. The pillars are of peculiar construction, a massive quadrangular base supporting a curved and swelling column surmounted by a projecting capital, above which a console-like member upholds the entablature. The entire surface is covered with bas-reliefs, representing in singular complexity the fantastic devices of Brahminical symbolism ,—the figures of men and animals, with beings that are a mixture of both executed with, marvelous elaboration of detail. In the island of Elephanta, near the city of Bombay are also remarkable, cave-temples with mysterious chambers where Siva is worshiped his, features now smiling, now passive, and again distorted with rage, while from his altar a protruding hand is grasping a cobra, emblem of the god.
The Jains, a sect which first came into prominence about the middle of the fifth century through its attempts to reestablish Brahminism were esteemed as the foremost of architects as appears from, their Hindu appellation of Vedyavhan, or magic builders. Of their splendid but comparatively recent monuments,—the earliest belonging to the tenth century—the finest specimens are to be found in the Mysore, spacious courts and vaulted roofs, with arches, domes, and cupolas such as never before were seen in India, forming the architectural features of temples richly decorated in the most fantastic style of the Orient. Among them is the famous temple at Somnauth, destroyed by Mahmood of Gazni in 1025, and later restored with elaborate ornamentation, so that it is difficult to determine the period to which its remains belong. It was of no great dimensions, never exceeding 130 feet in length, but was enclosed with a superbly decorated courtyard, its sculptures superior to any of their class or age. Within the sanctuary was a great idol, though whether that of Siva or Vishnu has never been ascertained, and there were thousands of smaller images wrought in gold and silver and in many shapes.
No less remarkable was the temple erected by the merchant prince, Vimala Sah on the plateau of Mount Abu, which rising from the desert, like an island from the sea, to a height of 6,000 feet, is accessible only by pathways cut in the sides. It was built of white marble which must have been quarried at a distance of at least 300 miles from its site, and is one of the most ancient as well as most perfect of Jaina temples, of which, indeed, it serves as a type. In the central chamber, or cell, sits the cross-legged figure of Saint Parswanath, to whom the fane is dedicated, the cell terminating in a pyramidal roof, while in front is a portico of pillars arranged in the form of a church, the entire structure being surrounded by a courtyard with pillars serving as porticos to a range of cells, each with its cross-legged image but none of them tenanted by monks; for the Jains abjured monasticism. A few miles south of Mount Abu are the ruins of a large city with the remains of many Jain temples of similar construction.
Of Hindu pagodas the finest are those of Dravidian architecture, and foremost among them is the one at Tanjore, the grandest of all Indian temples, rising in fourteen stories to a height of 190 feet, resting on a base 82 feet square, and surmounted by a cupola fashioned out of a single stone. Surrounding it is the usual courtyard, in which are smaller shrines, that which is dedicated to Soubramanya, the son of Siva, forming one of the most beautiful specimens of structural decoration in southern Hindustan. By Ram Raz, a native authority, has been depictured the temple group at Tiravalur, contrasting strangely with the one at Tanjore, though also of Dravidian design. At first a mere village structure dedicated to Siva and his consort, it was enlarged and enriched at various periods until its surrounding court enclosed a space 940 by 700 feet, with several gopuras and shrines, though in the plan there is little to be commended, the gateways, for instance, losing their effect through being spaced in bare, blank walls. Yet this was a form all too common in Dravidian architecture, as appears, among others, in the temple at Seringham, the largest in southern India, with its hall of 1,000 columns each fashioned out of a single block of granite. In the Ramisseram, on the island of Paumben, are combined most of the beauties and defects of the Dravidian style, its corridors, nearly 4,000 feet in length and with compound pillars and piers, producing, until recently disfigured by coats of paint, an effect seen nowhere else in Hindustan. Almost as imposing is the great choultric or hall at Madura, with its profusely sculptured facade, costing, it is said, £1,000,000, while on the temple adjacent was expended more than £3,000,000.
In Orissa are some of the purest types of Indo-Aryan architecture, the entire province being sacred ground, for every town is filled with temples and every village has its shrine. In all the peninsula there is no finer specimen of native Hindu art than the temple at Bhubaneswar, belonging probably to the seventh century and not to the largest class. Of about the same height as the one at Tanjore, it surpasses it in symmetry, though not in grandeur of outline, being composed entirely of stone and with every inch of its surface elaborately carved. As seen from the courtyard the sculpture is of surpassing beauty, though, as we read, there stood near the southern boundary of the former kingdom a temple carved in more delicate tracery than any in Hindustan. The Raj Rani temple is also a gem of Orissan architecture, with almost perfect details and play of light and shade. Below one of the pillars of the doorway are three kneeling elephants, above them as many lions, typical of the race, and above these a female Naga with snake-hood, while over the portal are represented the nine planets commonly found in the fanes of Siva and Vishnu. At Kanaruc is the famous "Black Pagoda,” resembling closely the temple at Bhubaneswar and with infinite beauty and variety of carving. But most famous and also one of the most unsightly of all was the temple of Juggernaut at Puri, originally erected by a Kesari monarch who unearthed the image of the god after a century and a half of burial. It was surrounded with double enclosure of which the outer one was 670 by 640 feet, the temple itself being 300 feet in length, with many smaller shrines; but in its outline there was neither grace nor solidity, while coats of whitewash and paint have added still further to its deformity.
As with the hieratic, so with the secular architecture of the Hindus, most of its excellence is due to Dravidian influence, the palaces, kutcheries, and other buildings of the rajahs of southern India sometimes rivaling in splendor those of Mohammedan design. The Madura palace is built around a spacious courtyard flanked with arcades of elegant design and ornamented with the fine stucco work in shell lime peculiar to the presidency of Madras. On one side of the court, in the form of an arcaded octagon surmounted by a dome, is the Celestial pavilion, formerly used as the throne-room; on another is a stately hall 120 feet, long and 70 in width and height, with many of the features and much of the structural propriety of a Gothic building. The Tanjore palace, of comparatively recent date, is of similar plan but inferior in execution, especially for its squat pilasters and clumsy moldings, the latter aping the Italian school. Elsewhere is seen an admixture of Hindu and Moslem styles, as in the garden pavilion of the Vijayanagar palace, whose scattered buildings represent the abode of royalty. In many modern palaces, and especially those of the nawabs of the Carnatic and of Lucknow may be observed the bastard Italian style which mars the details of buildings otherwise imposing through mass and variety of outline; for here was a style but little understood, and entirely unsuited to the country.
In central and northern India there are at least a score of royal mansions of exceptional interest or beauty, among the most interesting being those of Gwalior, though of its older palaces there are few remains. One of the most perfect specimens was completed early in the sixteenth century, its facades being relieved by lofty towers crowned with cupolas of gilded copper. Later were added other mansions; especially those erected by Shah Jahan, forming together a picturesque and stately group. More ancient were the palaces at Chittore and at Udaipur or Oodeypore, whither Udya Sing removed his capital after the sack of the former by Akbar in 1580. One of the Oodeypore structures resembles Windsor castle in outline, and fronts on a noble lake in which are island palaces among the most beautiful of their class. Of magnificent proportions are the Bundeleund palaces at Duttiah and Ourtcha, the latter a most imposing group and with striking combinations in architectural design, though somewhat florid in detail.
Pictorial art in its proper sense did not exist among the ancient Hindus; for the mere figure-painting or bedaubing we should rather term it, of temple walls and pillars, cannot be classed under that head, though the miniature paintings of a later period were of unquestionable merit. Their sculpture, in common with their architecture, was essentially of a religious character, embodying the forms of Brahminical and Buddhist worship in such grotesque and fanciful creations that we wonder how this gentle race, whose Vedas foreshadow the doctrines of Christ and whose Buddha was the most benevolent of could have conceived the monstrosities sages, in wood and stone before which they bowed in adoration. At first their deities were of mystical and reposeful type, as appears in the figure of Lakshmi, the Indian Venus, and in the goddess of beauty with bejeweled fingers and feet enthroned in the pagoda of Bangalore. But presently these artistic conceptions give place to size distorted idols, in which ferocity, size, and multiplicity of organs serve as the stamp of superiority. Thus Siva appears in his war-chariot with six arms and several heads; eight-armed Bhadra, begirt with human skulls, is putting on his armor for the fray, and Dourga, the spouse of the former is mounted on a lion, and about to engage in combat with a bull-headed demon of gigantic stature.
Though Buddhism in its earlier form permitted no images except those of Buddha himself, it soon lost its purifying influence on the art as on the lives of its followers, the gods being blended together in all the grotesque and fanciful creations of the Hindu Olympus. Until the advent of the Jains, Buddha was omnipresent in Indian temples and topes, varying in form and size from the statues, 120 feet in height, carved out of the rock in the shrine at Bamiyan, to those in the temple-caves of Ellora and Kenhari, where the great teacher sits cross-legged in his cell, or stands forth in long, flowing robes to pronounce a blessing on his votaries. On the pillared gates of the tope at Sanchi were represented incidents from his life, his processions and ceremonies, with scenes of the battle and the siege, this being one of the oldest of his monuments and one of a few which bear traces of historic sculpture. While Buddha does not appear in the monstrous shapes ascribed to the Hindu trinity,—to Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva—as a rule the art of Hindustan was the handmaid of a religion symbolized in the most repulsive forms of idolatry that have ever been fashioned by the perverted ingenuity of man.
The short-lived empire of the Greeks, followed by the Greco-Bactrian dynasty, left many traces of Hellenic culture, and these were followed by other changes, both ethnical and dynastic. In the seventh century the Moslems first made their appearance in northern India, and in the opening years of the thirteenth a sultan is seated on the throne of Delhi. Presently comes Akbar the Great, the founder of the Mogul empire, an able and beneficent ruler, whose monuments, belonging to the middle of the sixteenth century, rivaled in splendor those of Europe. Thenceforth there was much in common between Hindu and Moslem architecture, and though in the last the use of statuary was forbidden, the royal palaces were richly adorned with gold and silver and precious stones.
By Shah Jahan, the grandson of Akbar, was founded the modern city of Delhi, or Jahanabad, as still the Mohammedans term it. He it was who erected the famous Peacock throne and the mosque of Jama Masjid, one of the most graceful of Indian temples, though in ancient Delhi were many beautiful monuments, as the Kala Masjid, or black mosque, so called from the color which time has given to it. Built of marble and red sandstone, standing boldly forth from a rocky eminence, surmounted by lofty minarets and domes of white marble, and with handsome portal approached by a magnificent stairway, the Jama Masjid, or great mosque, is an oblong structure, 260 feet in length, its cloistered courtyard, paved with granite and open at the sides commanding a noble view of the former capital of the Moguls. This is one of the few mosques designed chiefly for external effect, and though by no means in the purest style of Moslem art, the effect is extremely picturesque.
A less pretentious but more elegant monument, perhaps the most elegant in all Indo-Mohammedan architecture, is the Moti Masjid, or Pearl mosque, at Agra, also erected by Shah Jahan. Externally there is little attempt at decoration, but entering the courtyard through the principal gateway, the scene is of surpassing loveliness, the entire space, enclosed on three sides by a colonnade, and on the fourth by the seven arched portals of the mosque, being covered with white marble in most beautiful designs. Still more famous among Agra monuments is the Taj Mahal, built as the mausoleum of the favorite wife of Shah Jahan and but slightly impaired. Says Fergusson in his History of Indian and Eastern Architecture: '"It is modern American architecture almost impossible to convey an idea of it to those who have not seen it, not only because but from of its extreme delicacy, and the beauty of the material employed in its construction, the complexity of its design. If the Taj were only the tomb itself, it might be described: but the platform on which it stands, with its tall minarets, is a work of art in itself. Beyond this are the two wings, one of which is a mosque which anywhere else would be considered an important edifice. This group of buildings forms one side of a garden court, beyond which is an outer court entered by three gateways, and containing in the center of its inner wall the great gateway, a worthy pendant to the Taj. Beautiful as it is, the Taj would lose half its charm if it stood alone. It is the combination of so many beauties, and the perfect manner in which each is subordinated to the other, that make up a whole which the world cannot match."
From Gaur, formerly the Pathan capital of Bengal, a mass of ruins extends for nearly a score of miles along the bank of the Ganges, mosques still in use being found among the remains of temples, towers, and tombs half buried beneath the luxuriant vegetation of the Gangetic basin. Among the finest of the buildings still partially preserved are two handsome similar ornamentations, mosques whose facades are covered with imitations of foliage in low relief, similar ornamentations, usually in terracotta, being common in Mohammedan temples.
At Kantonuggur, near Dinapur, one of the most picturesque of temples, its central pavilion surrounded with octagonal towers, is entirely covered with figure and other subjects in terracotta representing the habits, usages, and attire of the Bengalese at the beginning of the eighteenth century. Of the labor bestowed on this and other monuments it is impossible to form an estimate though it is, related that the erection of the Taj Mahal was the twenty years' task of twenty thousand men.
Of the many forms of Saracenic and Indo-Saracenic architecture there are none more elegant than those which are found at Ahmadabad in the province of Gujrat, where are also strong traces of Jain influence. Chief among them was the Juma Masjid erected by Ahmed Shah, who here established his capital early in the fifteenth century. Above a facade almost classic in its simplicity are fifteen domes arranged in symmetrical order and supported by 260 pillars of most delicate workmanship. Its minarets, famous in eastern story, have been destroyed by earthquake; but elsewhere in the city are others from which their shapely outlines have been reproduced.
At Benares, the holy city of the Hindus, a city famed and powerful before Rome was founded or Cyrus had shed luster on the Persian empire, a structure less than fifty in length and the same in height is the principal temple erected on the sacred ground where, forty centuries ago. Vedic Brahmins reared their fire-altars and bowed in adoration to the sun. Built to replace the one destroyed by Aurungzebe, whose mosque still raises its lofty minarets in insult over the most venerated spot in Hindustan. it is a double edifice, with shapely and richly decorated spires rising above pavilions ornamented in the most finished style of oriental art, all its details being clearly defined and in perfect taste. Entirely out of place, however, is the bulbous dome of the Saracenic order which surmounts the connecting porch.
Of all Mogul palaces the most magnificent was that which Shah Jahan erected at Delhi toward the middle of the seventeenth century. Encompassed with a wall of red sandstone surmounted with towers and kiosks, it occupied a space 3,200 by 1,600 feet, the main entrance fronting on a spacious avenue known as the Chandni Chauk, or street of silver. A deeply recessed portal gave access to a vaulted hall, resembling somewhat the nave of a Gothic cathedral, and opening into a courtyard from which extended a two-storied bazaar, leading in one direction to the Delhi gate and in the other to a garden adorned with fountains and marble pavilions. In the main court, 550 by 385 feet, stood the great hall of audience, in the center of which, on a marble platform inlaid with precious stones, was the gorgeous Peacock throne. Elsewhere was a private audience chamber profusely decorated, and on its roof an inscription that has since become famous; “If there be a heaven on earth it is this.”
There were many courts, with harems and private apartments without number, the entire group covering an area more than twice the size of the Escorial or of any European palace. Of all its splendor little now is left, the remnants of this architectural dream being surrounded with a hideous barrack-yard and serving in part as a mess-room.
More elegant, but less magnificent is the palace which Shah Jahan erected at Agra, now contained within the walls of the fort where European residents found refuge during the sepoy mutiny. In its center, says Fergusson, "is a great court, 500 by 370 feet, surrounded with arcades and approached at the opposite ends by a succession of beautiful courts opening into each other through gateways of great magnificence. On one side is the great hall of the palace,—the Diwani Aum—supported by arcades of exquisite beauty. Behind it are two smaller courts, one containing the harem and the other the private hall, built entirely of white marble inlaid with precious stones." Here also British vandalism has been at work, one of the pavilions of polished white marble, adorned with arabesques and gems in floral designs being covered with coatings of whitewash to serve as the residence of an English officer.
Of the palace which Akbar erected at Alia habad only the audience hall remains, and this has been so disfigured as to be almost beyond recognition; for the structure has been converted into an arsenal, with a brick wall around its colonnades, its richly decorated pavilions being destroyed, and that which is left covered with plaster and whitewash. An attractive feature was the pavilion of the Chalis Situn, or forty pillars, these being arranged as two concentric octagons, with a similar series resting on the inner colonnade and surmounted by a dome. But Akbar's favorite residence was his palace at Futtehpoor, where still are to be seen the three pavilions erected for his favorite sultanas, with outlines and carvings extremely beautiful and picturesque. Here also is one of the most stately of Indian mosques, its magnificent portal entered beneath a semi-dome in the style peculiar to Saracenic architecture.
Of other mosques and palaces, did space permit, mention might here be made, as well as of the palatial mansions of the rich, where European forms are adapted to oriental conditions. But we must conclude our sketch of Asiatic countries, of which only China and Japan will be added to those already described; for while elsewhere, and especially in Ceylon and Further India, there is much of interest, it belongs rather to the monstrous than to the beautiful, and it is not with the monstrous that we are now concerned. Moreover, as in Hindustan itself, the story of their art is written in decay.
In China, as in all the Indias, hieratic architecture and art received a strong impulse from Buddhism, which, in the former country, first made itself felt about the opening of the Christian era, and gradually spread throughout the land. Yet Hindu and Chinese architecture are essentially different, the one being symbolic and serious in style, the other fantastic, though by no means wanting in elegance, and with strong peculiarities in decorative scheme, especially in the polychromic treatment which is one of its essential features. In the smaller temples the stories diminish in size as height is attained, each receding from the concave roof of the one below, while the galleries are often adorned with gaily painted pilasters, with trellis and carved woodwork, dragons standing forth from the rafters and bells depending from projecting points giving to the buildings the appearance of curious toys. Many of them are surmounted with cupolas or slender towers, the richly colored and gilded taa, rising in many stages to a tapering point, as in the famous porcelain tower at Nanking, being probably an exaggerated form of the Indian dhagoba or tope. More practical in character is the secular architecture of the Chinese, much of it belonging to an early epoch, the great wall erected across the northern frontier of the empire some twenty-one centuries ago for protection against the Tartars.
While both Chinese and Japanese architecture is appropriate for business and domestic purposes, and with much that is interesting and instructive, here is not in either country anything that deserves the name of an architectural monument. Though the former excel in art manufacture and decorative art, as in the fabrication of silks, of porcelains and bronzes, and of figures in ivory and wood, their sculpture, with its quaint extravagance, is altogether lacking in little better in dignity, little better in fact than mere carving, while their painting is extremely monotonous in style and almost without trace of imagination. It is in truth remarkable that one of the most ancient nations in the world, where wealth has been accumulating for scores of centuries should have made so little progress in artistic development, should have left so few records of its past and display so little desire to leave to posterity any worthy memorials of the present. Though expressing their reverence for the dead in handsome and costly mausoleums, the Chinese never expend their means on anything that will perpetuate their own memory among future generations.
At Ho-nang, opposite Canton, is one of the best preserved of Buddhist temples, an eighteenth century structure but in the style belonging to a much earlier date, reproducing in Chinese forms many of the features of the rock-hewn temples of India. The grounds, which cover several acres, are divided into courts and gardens; around which are cells for 200 monks, with the usual offices of a monastery. A series of halls extends along the side of an inner court, the largest of which contains gilded images of the three Buddhas, with all the appliances for daily service, another apartment serving as a lady chapel, where women are the principal worshipers. At Peking are several Buddhist monasteries of more imposing proportions, and here, surrounded by an enclosure four miles in circuit, is the great temple of Heaven, where once a year the emperor offers sacrifice on a marble altar in the form of a circular terrace 210 feet wide at the base and 90 at the summit. At another altar, surmounted by a structure with triple roof of deep-blue porcelain tiles, prayers are offered by the emperor in seasons of drought or famine. The temple itself, a fifteenth century structure but still in good repair, is built on a terraced pyramid and in three stories, each with convex and broadly projecting roof, the upper one capped with a gilded ball, beneath which is the main altar.
The Porcelain tower at Nanking, founded early in the fifteenth century by the emperor Yung-lo, as a token of gratitude to his mother, was the finest of Chinese taas, though its originality and beauty of outline did not preserve it from destruction during the Taiping rebellion. It was in nine stories, of octagonal form, and some 260 feet in height, its walls encased with white porcelain bricks and the overhanging roofs of each story fashioned of green porcelain tiles. Hung on chains made fast to the eaves from an iron rod at the apex were five large pearls, supposed to protect the city from flood, fire, tempest, and civil tumult, hundreds of bells and lanterns being fastened to the eaves. There are other towers in China of similar design, though none that will bear comparison with the Mohammedan minars of Hindustan.
Though Chinese efforts at monumental architecture have resulted only in failure, it is not so with their domestic architecture; for the dwellings of the wealthy are adorned with an exuberance of colors, carvings, and other decorations which, though not in keeping with western notions are well adapted to the Orient. Red is the favorite color for pillars, blue for floors, and green for open work, while everywhere is a profusion of gilding, the garden court around which the structure is usually reared being adorned with floral designs, with fountains and grottoes more fantastic than the buildings themselves, yet not out of place in the flowery land. The imperial palaces differ but little from the mansions of the rich, except that they are on a larger scale and with more elaborate ornamentation. The summer palace at Peking consists of a number of detached pavilions, between which are beautiful landscape effects in water and woodland scenery. The Winter palace is of more solid architecture, a basement of masonry supporting a superstructure of wood; yet both are wanting in dignity, as compared, for instance, with the structures reared by Shah Jahan at Delhi and Agra.
Until recent years the art of Japan was linked with that of China, and in neither country has architecture, so far as it is related to the fine arts, ever attained to excellence, while apart from other causes, destructive earthquakes have tended in the former to restrict the rearing of great monumental piles. In seismology, it may here be mentioned, the Japanese are well advanced, though the days are not long gone by when earthquakes were attributed to a huge catfish buried beneath the islands, with its head under Oshiu and its tail under Kyoto.
Wood is largely used for building purposes on account of the frequency and at times the severity of seismic shocks, of which, between 1885 and 1890 there were no less than 3,500 in various parts of the empire. These were followed by the great earthquake of 1891, with the center of disturbance in the main island, shattering embankments, hurling bridges into rivers, killing more than 7,000 people, and totally demolishing 142,000 houses. Conflagrations are less sweeping than in former ages, when three times in as many centuries Tokyo was almost obliterated, on one of these occasions a space being swept by the flames, eight miles in length by half a mile in width. In memory of the conflagration which occurred not long after the great fire of London, was erected over the pit where thousands of victims were buried the mound of Destitution, and nearby, the temple of the Helpless.
As in China, the royal palaces, though larger, are little superior in design or construction to those of the noble and wealthy. Surrounded with beautiful gardens, and now converted into a museum of Japanese arts and manufactures, is the imperial palace at Kyoto, the former capital of Japan, and the most sightly and cleanly of its three great cities. Here also is a feudal castle whose richly decorated audience chambers, whose moat and drawbridge, massive walls and tower-capped gateways belong to the sixteenth century. In the suburbs are many Buddhist and Shinto temples, some of them miniature cities in themselves, with pleasure grounds and fairs that are always open. Most ancient of all and most frequented is the Kiomidzu temple, built on the slope of the Teapot hill, with its innumerable shrines and huge stone gateway, beneath which mendicant priests present their begging bowls. Extending thence is a continuous chain of sanctuaries, prominent among them being that of Chioin, with its massive embankments, its shaded avenues, and its altar surrounding a golden shrine and covered with gilded ornaments. At intervals are heard the notes of its great bronze bell, weighing 75 tons and struck on the exterior surface by a swinging beam producing tones and reverberations as soft and sweet as the low sad strains of an organ touched by a master's hand. On opposite sides of Kyoto are the Kinkakuji and Ginkakuji, that is to say the gold and silver-covered pavilions, both used as monasteries, both of extreme antiquity, and surrounded with gardens in the highest style of landscape art. To the former belongs a miniature palace with gilded roof and lacquered walls, still almost intact after the lapse of many centuries. Worthy of mention also are the Sanjiusangendo, or hall of the 33,000 Buddhas, a veritable storehouse of images, and the temple of Imari, the goddess of rice, in whose grounds the sacred foxes still hunt their prey.
The sanctuaries of Shiba the suburb of Tokyo, are entirely, Buddhist, and gorgeous of aspect in comparison with those of the national religion, Shintoism, of which the Mikado is pope and potentate. Temples and tea-houses; bell-towers fountains, and arches, all have the same grotesque, high-ridged roofs, with the graceful curve of the palm leaf, and extending eaves supported by a maze of carvings colored in gold and scarlet and green. There is the shrine of the goddess Imari, guarded by foxes; the magnificent shrines grouped round the tombs of the shoguns, or military chieftains, the bronze Buddha, the lotus cistern, and the temple frieze rich in sculptured imitations of flowers and fruits. Entrance to the tombs is through a wide court containing hundreds of stone lanterns and thence into a court of bronze lanterns, from which rises a tower with ponderous bells, among the lanterns being six of large size, presented to the three princely families Go San Kee. From this the visitor passes into a temple courtyard and into the praying Chambers of the priests, adjacent to which is the chapel of the shoguns of lyenobu, lyeyoshi, and lyemochi.
Nikko, that is to say the Brightness of the Sun, ranks first among religious centers, and in perfect keeping with its sacred character are the silent and stately avenues, the ancient temples, and the richly decorated mortuary shrines before which worship myriads of white-robed pilgrims. Prominent among them are the sanctuaries and sepulchers where for centuries two mighty shoguns have rested beneath the shade of consecrated groves. Near one of them is a pagoda whose spiral summit is more than 100 feet high, innumerable gayly colored bells depending from its roof and with the strangest of animal figures at the base. Here also was erected, in 767, the first temple in honor of the faith which Gautama Buddha taught, and elsewhere are mausolea so richly adorned with sculpture as to justify the saying, "He who has not seen Nikko must not pretend to good taste. “
In its proper sense sculpture had no place in Japan until Buddhism largely supplanted the Shinto faith whose tenets were averse to art, white paper only, as an emblem of purity, being used in the decoration of temples, while on flower-wreathed altars were polished mirrors as symbols of the all-seeing Eye. Of the colossal bronze images of Buddha, the most gigantic is the one in the temple at Nara, more than 80 feet high, though in sitting posture, enthroned on a huge lotus-flower, as is the oriental custom. It was fashioned in parts and skillfully welded together, as in truth it must be to support its 450 tons of weight. In parallel rows on the head, which is encircled by a disk 150 feet in circumference, are nearly 1,000 curls, the eyes being three feet in diameter, and the right hand, raised as in benediction, having fingers six feet long. There are many other Buddhas, some of inferior size being preserved in the museums of London and Paris, and there are household gods and goddesses in many forms, often partaking of the humorous and grotesque. Thus Daikoukou, the god of wealth, is a plump and plethoric divinity, seated ' on a bale of merchandise and grasping a miners hammer; Hotei, the god of contentment, is yawning in lazy attitude; Yebis, the fish-god, is astride of a dolphin, his loins begirt with seaweed, and Benten, the Japanese Venus and goddess mother,—a homely Venus withal-has in one hand a pearl of great price and in the other a latch-key. The powers of nature are also symbolized, the typhoon being represented by the dragon and the tempest by the wind- god Raiden, with bag of assorted storms.
It is in the field of natural history that Japanese sculptors and painters most excel, the figures being reproduced with wonderful precision and infinite elaboration of detail. Among the most ancient are two fish with golden scales from the castle of Nagoya, and not inferior in workmanship was the ‘Sleeping Cat' of Zingoro, the greatest of seventeenth century sculptors and the architect of Nikko and Kioto temples. "Wood under his touch,” it was said, "grew plastic as wax; processions of divinities moved along his friezes; dragons reared themselves aloft, and animals crouched and gamboled beneath the roofs and along the columns." Of recent date are the bird figures of Suzki and Otake, their feathers reproduced with wondrous dexterity of manipulation, while Takenouchi and Yamada have given us some of the best of human figures, though with too much rigidity of outline.
In their way the Japanese are no less a nation of artists than the French, and with schools more ancient than those of the renaissance, the oldest, dating from the sixth century and of Buddhist origin, with others, as the National. Popular, and Naturalistic schools founded between the eleventh and eighteenth centuries. Though few of them are now in existence and none are influential, there is as much diversity of sentiment as in European art circles, the conservative party adhering to bid models and methods and the liberal party being in favor of foreign ideals and modes of treatment.
About the year 1890 the Mikado, desiring to encourage a taste for art, took into his service a number of painters and sculptors selected for their ability by a special commission, and to whom was granted a stipend and a social status never before conceded to the profession. Among them was Hashimoto Gaho, whose landscapes are of the best, as also are those of Hoyen and Motonobu, while Kubota received a gold medal for his figure paintings at the Paris Exposition of 1889, and of Chikdo Kishi, a Kyoto artist, it is related that when depicting a tiger for the Columbian Exposition, he was seized with a frenzy of inspiration which developed into insanity.
While as a people the Japanese are unquestionably gifted both in painting and drawing, their art is essentially realistic and without trace of ideality, never attempting to appeal through the senses to that which is above the senses. In some of their drawing books landscapes and animal figures are reproduced with scientific nicety of observation; in others are represented in colored prints scenes from fashionable life, together with the more homely environment of the common people, the crowded streets of populous cities, and local fairs and merry-makings, in which the feats of jugglers and athletes play a conspicuous part. But in all this, while there is much of the fantastic and grotesque, there is little of beauty, and in that little there are few attempts to rise above the merely ornamental. Nevertheless in art, as in other directions, progress has been very decided within recent years; so that in its higher branches Japan may presently compete with the nations of the west, as now she does in its application to objects of common utility.
In their carvings in ivory and wood, and especially their natsuke carvings, in their cabinetwork, their lacquer-work, their porcelains and bronzes, their textile fabrics, and other branches of decorative and industrial art, the Japanese have few superiors. It has indeed been prophesied that in many departments of manufacture they will at no distant day compete in the markets of the world with England and the United States; nor is this prediction so extravagant as at first sight it may appear. First of all labor is exceptionally cheap, even the most skilled of operatives being content with 50 to 75 cents a day, while for the majority of workmen half these rates will suffice. Then we have seen within recent years how readily the people adapt themselves to modern appliances and methods. Moreover, their remarkable imitative faculty is supplemented by much that is original and excellent of its kind their artistic, surprises and interpretations giving a pleasing aspect even to that which is familiar and commonplace. They have also many secret processes which others have attempted in vain to imitate; so that at European and other expositions her contributions in the useful and decorative arts were in the nature of a revelation.
In his Art of Decorative Design Doctor Dresser declares that Japan could supply the world with the most beautiful domestic articles that can be anywhere procured; and says Thomas Cutler in his Grammar of Japanese Ornament and Design, "If we study the decorative art of the Japanese, we find the essential elements of beauty in design, fitness for the purpose which the object is intended to fulfill, good workmanship, and constructive soundness, which give a value to the commonest article."
To this it may be added that in style it is not as in Europe, the result of processes grafted one upon another by the schools of ancient and modern nations, but something distinctly per se, something purely national, or with but slight trace of foreign influence. Hence mainly its appreciation by the outside world, and of this appreciation there is no better evidence than general imitation in the form of commonplace reproductions, without symptom of the taste and skill which distinguish true Japanese art from that which is merely Japanesque. But of this subject further mention will be made in chapters specially devoted to industrial and decorative art.
The most ancient of Hindu monuments, so far as is known, are the columns erected during the third century BC in the Ganges district by Prince Asoka, commemoration of his edicts and his faith. They were about 40 feet high, 10 feet in circumference at the base, tapering toward the summit and terminating in a circular capital; often surmounted with the figure of a lion, the emblem of Buddha. Some of these monoliths are still to be seen at Delhi and Allahabad; but not of course as they stood in the days of Asoka. On one of them was a life-size statue of the prince, and another, named the "Column of Gold" was regarded as the palladium of Hindustan until Tamerlane stripped it of its golden covering.
By Asoka were also built, as is related, 70,000 or 80,000 of the topes or tomb-mounds of India, in many of which are relics of Buddha and his disciples. Most of them are simply tumuli erected on terrace-like substructures; but in some there is an attempt at architectural decoration, the edifice being surrounded with a peristyle of slender columns and approached through an enclosure in which are handsome portals. In Ceylon is a tope built about 150 BC on a granite terrace 500 feet wide, the superstructure being still 140 feet high, notwithstanding its partial destruction.
The picturesque ruins of ancient Delhi occupy the slope of a hill overlooking a plain where was the site of three oriental capitals. Among them is the Kutab Minar, or great minaret, built of white marble and red sandstone, some 50 feet in diameter at the base as it originally stood, and 260 in height, with projecting and richly sculptured balconies, the highest of which was 215 feet from the ground. In beauty of design it resembles somewhat the campanile which Giotto built for the cathedral at Florence, while in detail, especially in its fluted moldings, it far surpasses the Italian structure.
When the palace of Shah Jahan at Delhi fell into the possession of the Britsh, it was looted in barbarous fashion, each one laying hands on whatever came in his way. Of the marble platform inlaid with precious stones, where once stood the Peacock throne, a considerable portion was torn up for use as table tops. Of these there are two in the India museum in London, one adorned with birds by a Florentine artist, and the other containing an execrable copy of Raphael’s Orpheus.'
At Ajmir are the remains of a mosque belonging to the thirteenth century, with a screen of remarkable beauty. Cufic inscriptions giving variety to the architectural embellishments without interfering with the plan. Nowhere else are such beautiful specimens of surface decoration as appear in this and other mosques where Saracenic designs are combined with Hindu delicacy of treatment. During Lord Mayo’s visit to some of the most richly Sculptured pillars of this temple were dragged from their place to form a triumphal arch. Roman vandalism, even as exemplified by Mummius in the sack of Corinth, could go no further.
In Roussclet's India and Its Princes the caves of Elephanta are thus in part described: "At some little distance from the landing place on the island of Garapoori is a shapeless mass of rock, which represented of old a gigantic elephant, and which has procured for the island the name of Elephanta, which the Portuguese bestowed upon it. Behind a dense thicket is found the commencement of a handsome flight of steps, cut in the solid rock of the mountain, which leading to the principal excavation, comes out on a large platform planted with trees; and, going on a short distance, we suddenly find ourselves in front of the great cave, whose massive columns seem to be sustaining the mountain.
Two columns and two pilasters form three great square gateways, which afford a view of the dark and mysterious interior of the temple. Scarcely has one crossed the threshold of the sanctuary when one feels overcome by that vague and indefinable impression which the great works of man's hand always produce. Rows of columns, losing themselves in the darkness, support a huge ceiling; above which and, as it were, crushing it, appears the enormous mass of the mountain. The walls are covered with lofty figures in relief, and the fantastic forms add to the mysterious effect of this subterranean hall. The order of the columns is one of the most beautiful that the Hindus have ever imagined, and is eminently appropriate to the architecture of the temple caves. At the extremity of the majestic colonnade that leads from the principal gateway is an altar supporting a gigantic bust, representing a divinity with three heads, two of which are only in profile. The principal face of the idol is calm and benevolent, and, though mutilated, full of expression; the forehead is covered with a lofty diadem, in the shape of a mitre, adorned with delicate carvings in imitation of necklaces and trinkets.
In Ceylon, as in India, are many rock-hewn temples, though less improved by art than those on the mainland and more grotesque in design. Buddhist architecture may be studied to good advantage in the ruins of Anuradhapura, for 1,000 years, beginning about 400 BC the capital of the island. Among them are two of the largest dhagobas of which any remains have been preserved, surmounted with hemispherical domes more than 1,100 feet in circumference, and with the tops of the spires 240 feet above ground. Of similar dimensions, and more sacred in character, was the Ruanwelli dhagoba, erected above a collection of relics and with its inner faces adorned with paintings of historic scenes. By a monarch who reigned about 250 BC was built a relic-shrine to contain the jawbone of Buddha, which dropping from the skies, as tradition relates, settled upon his crown.
In Mongolia there are few monuments, and there are not even towns or villages worthy of the name; for the inhabitants are essentially a pastoral people, their wealth consisting of flocks and herds, while the best of their territory has long since been appropriated by the Russians and Chinese. Tibet has many hundreds of temples and monasteries, the finest of which are on the hill of Potola in the suburbs of Lhasa, where also is the palace of the Grand Lama.
Among the ruins of Pagan in Burmah, eight miles in length and two or three in width are the remains of many temples, of which several of the finest are still kept in repair. One of the largest of them is that of Ananda, in the form of a square with a side of 200 feet and with projecting porticos. Like most of the others it is in seven stages, each smaller than the one below, the topmost story resembling a cell and rising to a height of 180 feet.
A similar edifice is that of the Thapinya, or Omniscient, and a smaller one, though richer in detail, is the temple of Gaudapalen. Burmese dhagobas resemble those of Hindustan, except for those built in the present century, which are of more complex design. Near Mongun is one known as the Kong Madu surmounted with a dome 100 feet in diameter and surrounded with 784 stone pillars divided into quadrants by four gateways of stone. Except for temple architecture stone is little used in Burma, even the kings palace being of wood, though an elaborate and costly edifice its entire surface, being painted in fantastic designs or covered with gildings, carvings, and lacquer work.
At Bangkok, in Siam, the finest specimen of hieratic architecture is the great tower of the Wat-ching pagoda, with its florid but striking ornamentation. Civic architecture is well represented in the hall of audience, in front of which are two colossal idols, remarkable only as specimens of sculptural deformity. In Java are many monuments, greatest of which is the temple of Boro Buddor, in the form of a dhagoba with 72 small domes, each containing a statue of Buddha. It is in nine stories, with galleries nearly a mile in extent lined with sculptures on both their faces, many of them well preserved and of historic interest. In the tree and serpent temples on the eastern side of the island, there is also much that when interpreted, will throw light on Hindu annals and mythology.
Sir William Chambers describes the abode of a rich Chinaman which, he says is of very common design. Though with only 65 feet of frontage, it has a depth of 260 feet, is entered by a hall about 20 feet wide running almost through the building, and has shops fronting on the street. The apartments on either side of the passage are identical in plan. First there are two study rooms, adjoining which are two small bedrooms, and then two pairs of reception rooms overlooking the garden court, where are flowerbeds, fountains, and fish ponds. The dining saloon, supported by columns, is 60 by 30 feet, being carried across the entire width of the building, and behind it are the kitchen and offices. There is also a hall where the family idol is worshiped, with more saloons and bedrooms beyond the courts, and over the dining saloon are apartments for visitors. In all the houses movable partitions are kept in readiness to subdivide the larger chambers.
Hashimoto Gaho, one of the court artists in the employ of the Mikado, gives an interesting description of the studio of a Japanese master where he studied about the middle of the present century. The master belonged to the Kano school, founded in the fifteenth century and largely under Chinese influence, so that the students were chiefly employed in copying the works of others, with little chance for the development of individual talent. A candidate for admission, after being approved, was received with great ceremony by the lord, as the master was always termed, and must belong to the privileged classes from which the sons of merchants and mechanics were strictly excluded. The novitiate must present to his chief five fans and 80 sen; to the son of the chief and the lady of the house a similar sum, with three fans to the former; to the children 20 sen for the purchase of toys, and to his future comrades in the school 250 sen and three gallons of sake, with presents to each member of the household from the steward downward.
Thus the new comer was required to pay in entrance fees what might appear to him a small fortune; appear to but thenceforth the only payment was a nominal sum for board. In a space twelve feet by six in the darkest corner of the studio he placed his desk, his brushes, box of colors, etc., and here he worked from seven in the morning till ten at night, sleeping on a mat and never leaving the house without permission If possessed of sufficient ability and application, he would be permitted to graduate after some fifteen years of apprenticeship, and then might open a studio of his own.
At present there is little of the true artistic spirit in Japan, the people being too much engaged in reconstructing their institutions on western models. Artists are seemingly indifferent to the business interests of their profession, working only when it suits them, breaking engagements, and never regarding their orders from a practical point of view. In olden times the trained artist, inheriting the secrets of many centuries of experience, worked for a single master, who treated and paid him well, furnishing the best materials that the country could produce. Foreign markets, with their uncertain and fitful demands have taken the place of medieval patronage, and for these the artist must work, if he would earn his daily bread, selecting that which pays best while catering to the untutored tastes of those who imagine themselves connoisseurs in Japanese art.
A favorite theme in the domestic art of the Japanese is the takara bune or ship of riches, wherein are seated the seven deities whom, among the numberless divinities of eastern Asia, they selected as their gods of wealth. He who would have lucky dreams must place a drawing of this vessel under his pillow on the second night of the New Year.