Quantifiable Aspects of the Stūpas

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There are six specific features of a stūpa that I am concerned with in this study. Figure 4.1 shows each of the features and only the railing is not labeled, but can easily be distinguished visually. These iconographic features are derived from actual features appearing on large actual stūpas, such as Sāñcī stūpa no. 1. The features appearing on the depicted relief stūpas mimic those found on their larger three dimensional brethren. Figure 4.1 The first of the features is the railing, or balustrade. In the iconography of a stūpa image, the railing is depicted very similarly to how it appears at Sāñcī stūpa no. 1, with several crossbars connecting two rail pillars. On top, across the entire railing are the copingstones. In the figural stūpas, the railing may either have two connecting crossbars between each pillar, or three, depending on the depiction and/or scene. Some of the stūpas also possess, like Sāñcī stūpa no. 1, multiple railings, representing a ground circumambulatory path and an upper one. Usually the railing is the architectural element which separates the circumambulatory path from the other portions of the stūpa, but in the figural representations it is doubtful a circumambulatory path was intended. Instead, it is a symbolic feature. The difference can be clearly seen when comparing the very large, three tiered stūpa representation from the west pillar of the north gateway (#12 on the master list of stūpa representations) with any other stūpa representations which have railings. In the aforementioned stūpa representation there are numerous figures clearly inside of the railing while in the standard stūpa scene nobody ever stands within the railing. The next feature is the aṇḍa, or hemispheric... ... middle of paper ... ...e height of the person(s); 2.) the stūpa is the approximate height of two persons; 3.) the stūpa is the height of approximately three-fourths of a person; 4.) lastly, the stūpa may be up to the height up a person and one-fourth the height of another person. Tables 4.2-3 include this measurement. The lone stūpa that does not have a comparable person in its scene has a height relatable to the height of an elephant. On the inside of the east toraṇa is a single large stūpa which is being worshipped by a number of elephants. The stūpa is approximately the height of one elephant. Together, these quantifiable aspects of the stūpas allow me to compare and contrast each of the thirty stūpas with each other and look for iconographic constants. Through these comparisons I suggest several ways to read certain stūpas based on the quantifiable measurements outlined above.

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