Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/44

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34
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

rows of elephants, are sculptured in alto riliero, forming caryatides of strange and mysterious figure, well calculated to strike the imagination of the ancient Hindu population. The interior of the central pagoda is adorned with sixteen magnificent columns, which, as well as the side walls, were once covered with paintings; and, with the central sanctuary of the idol, is composed with a correct understanding of architectural proportions. The two exit doors open upon a platform on which are five pagodas of lesser importance but of architectural merit and artistic ornamentation corresponding to those of the main building. Around these isolated temples excavations have been made into the sides of the mountain, in which are found a cloister adorned with bas-reliefs representing the principal gods of the Hindu pantheon; other halls, likewise sculptured; and various other

PSM V41 D044 Yaki deshik caves of afghanistan.png
Fig. 6. — Yaki Deshik Caves of Afghanistan.

features implying great labor and refined artistic taste and skill.

At Bamian, in Afghanistan, are five colossal statues (probably Buddhas) seated in niches which have been dug out in the cliff, while the rock is pierced with caves which are supposed to have been excavated by Buddhist monks during the first five centuries of the Christian era. Many of the caves are inhabited. Some of them are shown to have been bricked up in front, and both niches and caves are adorned with paintings and ornamental devices. Captain F. de Laessoe has described a number of caves which were excavated for habitation in the sandstones of the right bank of the Murghab River, near Penjdeh, in Afghanistan. One of them (Fig. 6) consists of a central passage a hundred and fifty feet long and nine feet broad and high, having on each side staircases and doors leading to rooms of different sizes. Each room has attached to it a small chamber, with a well in which possibly water brought up from the river was stored; and is also provided with small niches in the walls on which the lamps were placed and where marks of soot can still be seen. The entrances from the main passage to the rooms were shut with folding doors on wooden