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Oil painting - Copy of painting inside the caves of Ajanta (Cave 1)
  • Copy of painting inside the caves of Ajanta (Cave 1)
    Bombay School of Art
  • Enlarge image

Copy of painting inside the caves of Ajanta (Cave 1)

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    Ajanta (made)

  • Date:

    1872-1873 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Bombay School of Art (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil on canvas

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The cave paintings of Ajanta are the oldest to survive in India. They depict scenes from the lives of the Buddha and date from the 1st century BC to about AD 480. The cave complex was discovered in 1819 and later Captain Robert Gill made copies of the paintings. Unfortunately, most of the copies were destroyed by fire, so in 1872 John Griffiths, the principle of the Bombay School of Art, began painting new ones. He and his Indian students made approximately 300 paintings, of which this is one.

This painting depicts a Bodhisatva in a forest setting.

Physical description

This painting is of a bodhisattva in a beautiful forest /mountainous setting. In the top left hand corner there are charm bearers, identified as such by the sword he is carrying which represents their magic knowledge. In the bottom left hand corner you have a royal entourage, local king and queens taking offerings of flowers.

The figure on the right hand side has been the source of many theories.
- Identified as the personification of a Vajra – a vajra is a five pronged sceptre which represents the combination of wisdom and compassion. When a bodhisattva is depicted as holding a vajra, they are called vajrapani and are seen to embody the power of all the Buddhas.

Place of Origin

Ajanta (made)


1872-1873 (made)


Bombay School of Art (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Oil on canvas


Height: 190 cm, Width: 244 cm

Object history note

Commissioned by Government of India between 1872-1885 and deposited at the India Museum, London

Descriptive line

Copy of painting in the caves of Ajanta by John Griffiths and students from the Bombay School of Art, oil on canvas, 1872-1885, India

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

p. 530, cat. 66, fig. 1.36
Bryant, Julius and Weber, Susan, John Lockwood Kipling: Arts and Crafts in the Punjab and London Newhaven: Yale University Press, 2017

Labels and date

Copy of a mural painting of AD 400–500
Ajanta, Maharashtra, Central India
Oil on canvas by John Griffiths and students from
the Bombay School of Art, 1872–85
A bodhisattva is a spiritually enlightened being who
helps others attain enlightenment. Here he is shown
in a beautiful mountainous setting. At the bottom left
a king and queen bring offerings of flowers. To the
right is a figure who may be the Bodhisattva Vajrapani.
He holds a vajra, a ritual object representing the
immense power of the Buddha nature.
Museum no. IS.11-1885
400–500 [1/4/2009]


Paintings; India Museum


South & South East Asia Collection

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