This study is dedicated to the analysis of the four «encounters» of Siddhartha with the old man, the sick, the dead and the ascetic which, in our view, would be a possible source of inspiration for some pictures of meditation as in cave A of Tepe Shotor in Afghanistan.
From Gandhara to Central Asia, we believe that images of the emaciated future Buddha, those of the encounter of Siddhartha with death and those of skulls and skeletons found in these areas are closely related. In this regard, it is interesting to note that in Toyuk (Turfan), on the right wall of cave 20, we find the images of a monk contemplating a corpse while on the left wall of the same cave, there are representations of monks meditating on the Pure Lands.
We shall also demonstrate that images of monks meditating before corpses survived through centuries as in a Thai painting from 19th century and on a photography taken before 1906 from the Gerini collection, today given to Naples’ University « l’Orientale ».
We shall also show that the four encounters and the monk meditating on a skull are found in Kizil (North Silk Road) suggesting a relation between the two.