Cave #171, 5th Century AD
Thousand-Buddha Caves
Kizil, Xinjiang

The Hindu Garuda, Vishnu's mount, is painted here on the ceiling of an early Buddhist cave, more as a cultural motif than for any religious significance. The snakes that he holds in his mouth form a decorative pattern around his head and torso. The figural design is Persian, in spite of the Indian origin of its subject.