Category Archives: art history

Art history

Art of Harappan civilisation : some glimpses

     The Harappan civilisation existed predominantly in areas in present day Punjab in Pakistan. It is one of the oldest known civilisations. There was a bronze age city in a place near the village of Harappa and is an archaeological site in modern times. It was an urban culture, and flourished in the basins of the Indus river. Harappan civilisation is interchangeably used with the term Indus valley civilisation. Harappa was the first site to be excavated. The river Indus flows through present day Pakistan.

File:Ancient Harappa Civilisation.jpg

Ancient Harappa.

By Shefali11011 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

     More and more cities are being discovered and excavated of the Harappan civilisation. The area which the Indus valley civilisation covered was Western India, north-eastern parts of Afghanistan and most of Pakistan. The early Harappan age lasted from 3300 to 2600 B.C. the mature period was between 2600 to 1900 B.C. and the late age was from 1900 to 1300 B.C.

Indus Valley civilisation , main sites.

By The original uploader was Nataraja at French Wikipedia – Michel Danino, téléchargé par Nataraja 20 jan 2004 à 16:13 (CET)Originally from fr.wikipedia; description page is/was here., Attribution, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1744041

  The art of Harappan times were very impressive. The average person living in a city was either a trader or craftsman/artisan. Their art is evident on seals, pottery and beads. Also bronze vessels, gold jewellery and terracotta figures. The arts included working with agate, shell etc. Bronze casting was done too. Human and animal figures were depicted. Some were half of one animal and half of another.

   There seems  to have been a high degree of planning and civic planning as is evident from the ruins of Harappa. The common building material was baked brick. The cities of Harappa comprised not just of private houses but granaries, public wells and baths. Shops of metalsmiths, ivory workers and craftsmen existed at Lothal, a port city. Mohen-jodaro was an important site among the Indus Valley sites. There was a Great bath at Mohenjodaro, maybe used for a ritual purpose.

A well and probably bathing place at Harappa.

By Hassan Nasir (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0             (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

       The advanced structure of the cities suggest an equivalent advance in the sculptural techniques. Many seals and terracotta sculptures have been found. A common subject is a  female – often called Mother goddess. Often a small child is seen with her. The dancing girl and bearded man who is most likely a priest are well known. the bearded man is made of limestone, maybe the figure is of a Mesopotmanian given the facial features and hair type. His garment over his shoulder is a type seen in Mesopotamanian art.

Statue of an Indus priest or king found in Mohenjodaro, 1927

Priest or bearded man, Mohenjadaro.

By Mamoon Mengal – world66.com, CC BY-SA 1.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1257115

   Another well preserved figure is of a bronze statue of a female. She has been projected nude with elongated limbs. She has been thought of as a dancer, because of the posture of her limbs. She is wearing jewellery; a necklace and bangles.

File:Dancing girl. Mohenjodaro.jpg

Dancing girl, Mohenjodaro.

By Ismoon (talk) 12:06, 20 February 2012 (UTC) (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

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              Bowl from Harappa, National Museum, New Delhi.

By Nomu420 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30787092

 

 

     The terracottas found at Harappan sites are not very exquisite and were most probably a popular art. the women depicted have wide hips,pellet like breasts, tube like limbs and wear jewellery. Many bulls have been found at Harappan sites. The bull was representative of fertility and wealth. Many seals have been found at Harappan sites. The seals are made of stearite and coated with an alkali which was then fired. Most seals had animal or humans and a script or writing on them. The script was pictographic. The animals included elephants,rhinoceros, and the unicorn  with one horn; the ekashringa.

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Three different seals from early river valley civilizations

By MrABlair23 – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11058028

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Seals of Harappa, National Museum, New Delhi.

By Nomu420 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30791882

   Seals with a male figure a proto-Shiva depicted seated with the soles of the feet together and legs on each side with arms away from the body and thumbs resting on the knees have been found. This figure has been termed a yogin.  The figure has either a horn or a head-dress. There are many speculations about this figure. The figure might be abull-man or a ruler/king.  The Hindu God Shiva is associated with the Bull, hence this figure is taken to be a prototype of Lord Shiva. There are animal figures around the central figure; this has been linked to Lord Shiva’s Pasupati aspect. The peepal  tree leaf motif has been used as a motif on pottery and seals.

                                                                     Pasupati seal.

                                                      Source of pic : wikipedia.org.

File:Female figure, possibly a fertility goddess, Indus Valley Tradition, Harappan Phase, c. 2500-1900 BC - Royal Ontario Museum - DSC09701.JPG

                 Exhibit in the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

By Daderot (Daderot) [CC0 or CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

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Female figurine. Terracotta. 2700-2000., Harappa , at National Museum, New Delhi.

By Ismoon (talk) 21:50, 21 February 2012 (UTC) (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

WLA brooklynmuseum Harappa Miniature Votive Images.jpg

Miniature Votive Images or Toy Models, ca. 2500, Harappa.

By Wikipedia Loves Art participant “one_click_beyond” – Uploaded from the Wikipedia Loves Art photo pool on Flickr, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8747555

References :

  • The art of ancient india/Huttington,Susan L.,New York : Weather Hill,1985.
  • wikipedia.org

 

Posted by :

 

Soma Ghosh

 

©author

 

Temple of Gop : an ancient marvel in Western India

       The Gop temple is one of the oldest stone temples of Gujarat in Western India. It was built in late 6th or early 7th century. Located in the Jamnagar district it has Gandhara architecture with a square shrine. Surrounded by double courtyards it has a unique shikhara. It is on  the bank of Vartu river, south-west of Gop Hill of Barda Hills. The art is a blend of Gandhara and north Indian Gupta art styles, including Kushana influence.

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Gop temple, north west view, image,1874.

By Burgess, James, 1874 – http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/onlineex/apac/photocoll/o/largeimage62882.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44074068

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Inscription,Gop temple,Gujarat.

By James Burgess – Report on the Antiquities of Kutch & Kathiawar: Being the Result of the Second Season’s Operations of the Archaeological Survey of Western India, 1874-1875 p.187, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50922647

 

     The walls of the temple do not have any carvings, the shrine faces east like many temples in India. The shikhara is like a pyramid. The temple rests on a jagati  with a projection on the east but is otherwise square. There are three dormer windows called chandrasala which are on the slopes of the shikhara.  This temple was built by the Maitraka dynasty which was ruling Saurastra during the time. The Maitrakas came to power after the fall of the Guptas and are believed to have built over one hundred temples in the region.The Maitrakas ruled for over 250 years and are known to have given many grants for the construction of religious buildings. Their capital was Valabhi, an ancient sea port linking India with Persia and EuropeThe Chinese traveller Hsuen -Tsang  visited Valabhi in 640 A.D, the ancient capital of the Maitrakas.

      Large heavy blocks of stone have been used for the construction of the temple. There might have been steps to take the devotee to the entrance of the temple. The temple has been built without any cementing material. It is made of coursed ashlar which are 8 inches deep and jointed. The shikhara is made of six courses with one slab covering the apex with an amalaka on it. The dormer arches or chaitya windows of the shikhara in two tiers had sculptures of gods and a figure of Ganesha is still  seen on the temple’s west side. The holes which might have supported beams to hold the roof of the first inner courtyard can be seen clearly. The courtyards served as pradakshinapatha or circum-ambulatory path for the devotees. The yellow stone deities inside of the shrine are  Lord Rama with a high square mukuta or crown and Lakshmana with a lower  crown, believed  locally by people in the area.

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Gop temple, image,1999.

By Arnold Betten (eigenes Foto (Dia)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

References :

  • The art of ancient India/Huntington,Susan,New York : Weatherhill,1985.
  • wikipedia.org

 

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

© author

 

Chalukyan art : some monuments at Aihole

     The Gupta dynasty and its successors had declined by the end of the 6th century and several changes took place in the Deccan and Southern India. By the time the Vakatakas had collapsed the early Kaluchuris dynasty established itself  around 520 A.D and flourished till 600 A.D.  The Kaluchuris are noted for Pasupata Saivism, a religious  movement in the Deccan and South Asia. They excavated the Jogeswari caves,Mandapeshwara,Elephanta and the Dhumar Lena at Ellora. They were overtaken by the Western Chalukyas of Karnataka. The Kadambas of Banavasi ruled in South Karnataka and were also overtaken by the Western Chalukyas, who were Dravidian and ruled from Badami (ancient Vatapi) and called Badami Chalukyas. Their ruler Pulakesin I fortified the area of Badami in 543 A.D.  Pulakesin II was its most notable ruler. He defeated Harsha on the banks of the Narmada. He expanded the kingdom to the northern limits of the Pallava kingdom. However in  642 A.D Pallava king Narasimhavarman occupied Badami for some time. Pulakesin died fighting. However the Chalukyas regained power under Vikramaditya I. Later Vijayaditya (696-733) ruled for 37 years and built many temples. Vikramaditya II ruled 733 – 744 A.D and was victorious over Pallava king Nandivarman II. He was a kind ruler, made temples at Kanchipuram too. Thus this early Chalukyan dynasty ruled most of the Deccan for 200 years; from mid 6th century to mid 8th century.  They were overthrown by the Rashtrakutas.This dynasty is remembered for it rock-cutting sculpture and later structural temples. The rock cut tradition is found at Aihole and Badami in Karnataka.

Chalukyan art of ancient India reaches a classical zenith at the group of monuments at Aihole in the present state of Karnataka in southern India.  An amazing example of rock cut temple architecture built by the Chalukyas datable to 550 A.D. is the Ravana Pahadi. These Chalukyas were ware called the Early Western Chalukyas by historians. The Deccan became an interface between the upper north and south below in the Indian peninsula. The Ravan Pahadi cave has a simple facade with two dwarapalas  and dwarves. The cave has a central mantapa (hall) with shrines by its sides. At the back end is a linga within a sanctuary. The mantapa is at a lower level than the shrines and sanctuary. The cave walls and ceiling including the corners of the main mandapa or hall have superb sculptures. A multi armed representation of Lord Shiva as Nataraja along with the saptamatrikas . Legend has it that the saptamtrikas were created during his battle with Andhakasura. The figures are slim and their garments have striations which are incised on stone. The cave has a figure of Durga as Mahisasuramardini  depicting her with her with one left hand and folded leg crushing the bull. She holds her weapons including the trident or trisula which is very prominent.

Ravana Pahadi cave,6th century,Aihole,Karnataka.

By Manjunath Doddamani Gajendragad at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=55299150

Mantapa , Ravana Pahadi cave temple,6th century, Aihoḷe,Karnataka.

By Dineshkannambadi – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19877895

 

Raval Phadi (Brahmanical Cave) - Image 2.JPG

Linga,Ravana Pahadi ,6th century,Aihole, Karnataka.

By Nagraj – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21380047

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Nataraja, Ravana Pahadi cave temple, 6th century,Aihole,Karnataka.

By Dineshkannambadi – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19877893

Relief work2 in the Ravana phadi cave temple in Aihole.jpg

Mahisasuramardini, Ravana pahadi Cave temple, 6th century,Aihole, Karnataka.

By Dineshkannambadi – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19877894

      Durga temple at Aihole has an apsidal and oblong plan and is part of a fort or durg, hence its name Durga. It was built during the late 7th and early 8th centuries by the Early Western Chalukyas. There is a circumbulatory passage around the temple having pillars,some with sculptures.. There is an entrance area, a mandapa or hall and an inner shrine. The inner shrine has a narrow circumambulatory path.  The temple has a small porch approached by two staircases. The inner wall of the temple has many sculptures.; Durga as Mahisasuramardini having eight arms. A shikhara is present on the temple’s east-side over the shrine. The temple might have been dedicated to Lord Vishnu as many of his avatars  are carved on the temple like Varaha and  Narasimha.

Durga temple, 6th century,Aihole,Karnataka.

CC0, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37733925

Durga Temple Aihole. Vishnu.jpg

Lord Vishnu,Durga temple, Aihole,Karnataka.

By Ismoon (talk) 21:12, 5 June 2013 (UTC) – Own work, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26505253

Kaali Matha.jpg

Durga, 6th century,Aihole, Karnataka.

By Naveenkumarsnayak – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51445322

Aihole 3.JPG

Durga temple,6th century,Karnataka.

By Nithin bolar k – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27944703

Aihole si05-1462.jpg

Celestial couple,ceiling, Durga Temple,6th century, Aihole,Karnataka.

By G41rn8 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=40069651

 

References :

  • The art of ancient India/Huntington,Susan,New York : Weatherhill,1985.
  • wikipedia.org

 

Posted by

Soma Ghosh

©author

 

 

Mauryan art : images from ancient India

          The Mauryan period in the history of the Indian subcontinent lasted between 323 B.C to about 125 B.C. It started when king Mahapadma of the Nandas was overpowered by Chandragupra Maurya in Magadha. He was guided by Chanakya whose teachings are revered even today. The Mauryan rule achieved great unity in ancient India, not just culturally but also politically. His grandson was King Ashoka who erected pillars at many places.

      The art of this time is evident from pillars, stupas and caves. Some remains of the capital city of Pataliputra are available which throw light on the styles prevalent. Greek influence is found on the style of art and architecture.

      The stupas at Sanchi,Sarnath and Amaravati were built as brick and masonry mounds during the reign of Ashoka. Pillars erected by him are found in Afghanistan,Nepal border,Odisha and Karnataka. The pillars were carved in two types of stone, red and white sandstone from Mathura; buff coloured, fine grained,sandstone with small black spots, from Chunar near Varanasi.

 The religious pillars were erected across the Gangetic plain, inscribed with Ashokan edicts. The capital part of the pillar had an animal; the lion capital of Sarnath, bull capital of Rampurva in Bihar, lion capital of Lauria-Nandangrah,also at Bihar.

Ashoka pillar,Vaishali, 3rd century, Bihar.

By mself – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1762981

       Pottery is associated with the Mauryan times; Northern Black Polished Ware is typical of early Mauryan era. It was made of alluvial clay either greyish or red. It was given burnished dressing , a jet black or deep grey glaze. This was used for dishes and bowls.

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Mauryan ringstone, with standing goddess. Northwest Pakistan. 3rd century B.C,British Museum,U.K

By No machine-readable author provided. World Imaging assumed (based on copyright claims). – No machine-readable source provided. Own work assumed (based on copyright claims)., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=342265

The Pataliputra capital shows Greek and Acheamenid influence. It is dated to 3rd century B.C. it has volute, bead, reel and honeysuckle motifs. The capital city had a large timber palisade around it. it had 64 gates and 570 towers as per Megasthenes. The towers were made of sandstone similar to Ashokan pillars. Mauryan architecture can still be seen at the Barabar mounts, grottoes of Lomas Rishi.

Pataliputra Palace capital by L A Waddell 1895.jpg

Pataliputra palace capital.

By L.A. WADDELL (1854-1938), author of the book and the photograph – “Report on the excavations at Pataliputra (Patna)” Calcutta, 1903, page 16 [1], Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=52346710

MauryaStatuettes.jpg

Statuettes of the Maurya period, 4th-3rd century B.C, Musée Guimet,Paris.

By No machine-readable author provided. World Imaging assumed (based on copyright claims). – No machine-readable source provided. Own work assumed (based on copyright claims)., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1145968

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Bull capital Rampurva, Indian Museum, Kolkata.

By User:Tinucherian – Composite of Wikipedia Commons [File:Indian Museum Kolkata 1527.jpg] (partial top, broken), and [File:Indian_Museum_Kolkata_1525.jpg] (base) with verification of design accuracy., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=52572066

 

Female figure, northern India, Maurya period, c. 320-200 BCE, terracotta, HAA.JPG

Female figure, teracotta,Maurya period, North India.

By Hiart – Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17609801

 

References :

  • The art of ancient India/Huntington,Susan,New York : Weatherhill,1985.
  • wikipedia.org

 

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

©author

Dhyani Buddhas in art : some depictions

      The Dhyani Buddhas are representations of the five qualities of the Buddha. They    are also called the Five Wisdom Thatagatas. In Vajrayana Buddhism they figure as an important subject in the mandalas.  The Dhyani Buddhas are aspects of the dharmakaya or dharma-body which embodies the principle of enlightenment in Buddhism.

The five Dhyani Buddhas are Vairochana,Amogasiddhi,Amitabha,Ratnasambhava and Akshobhya. Vairochana is associated with space,all accomodating,teaching the dharma; Amogasiddhi is associated with air,all accomplishing and represents the wisdom of perfect practice. Amitabha  is associated with fire,inquisitiveness and represents the wisdom of observation; Ratnasambhava is associated with earth, giving and represents the wisdom of equanimity; Akshobhya is associated with water,non-dualism and represents the  wisdom of reflection.

The Dhyani Buddhas are sometimes called the Five celestial Jinas or Conquerors. They usually have the urna,the usnisa and the long lobed ears, which are among the 32 lakshanas  or superior marks of a Buddha. They are bare headed with short curly hair with a shawl draped over one shoulder and arm.

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Five Dhyani Buddhas,painting.

By Unknown – http://www.fodian.net/world/buddhas/5b/5ba.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16961889

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Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara  seated on a lion,in lalitasana , snake wrapped vajra scepter, lotus flower, 5 Dhyani Buddhas are also seen, statue, black shist, Bihar, India, Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois, USA.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/wonderlane/

Vairochana is mostly depicted with the dharmachakra mudra, Akshobhya with bhumi sparsha, Ratnasambhava with varada, Amitabha with dhyana and Amoghasiddhi with abhaya mudra.

Altar Painting of Vairocana (Treasure 1363).jpg

Altar painting of Vairocana,after 1590,Korea.

By Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea – http://www.cha.go.kr/korea/heritage/search/Directory_Image.jsp?VdkVgwKey=12,13630000,36&imgfname=b1363000036001.jpg&dirname=treasure&photoname=%BA%F1%B7%CE%C0%DA%B3%AA%BA%D2%B5%B5, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16341797

Amoghasiddhi, 14th century,Tibet, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco,USA. 

By jaredzimmerman (WMF) – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33809747

Amitabha and Eight Great Bodhisattvas (Freer Gallery of Art).jpg

Amitabha and Eight Great Bodhisattvas, Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392), Korea,Freer Gallery of Art,USA.

By unidentified Goryeo-Dynasty artist – http://www.asia.si.edu/collections/singleObject.cfm?ObjectNumber=F1906.269, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29190158

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 Dhyani Buddha Akshobhya,painting.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Depicted below is a thangka of Dhyani Buddha Akshobhya. The background consists of multiple images of the Five Dhyani Buddhas.

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Dhyani Buddha Akshobhya, thangka, late 13th century,Tibet, Honolulu Museum of Art,USA. 

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Ratnasambhava, Kadampa Monastery, Central Tibet, 1150-1225, LACMA,USA.

By anonymus – LACMA, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26940160

 

References :

  • Thomas, P/Epics, myths and legends of India, Bombay : D. B. Taraporevala and Sons.
  • wikipedia.org
  • Fisher,Robert E./Buddhist art and architecture,London : Thames and Hudson,1993.
  • Gordon,Antoinette K/The iconography of Tibetan Lamaism,New Delhi : Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers,1998.

 

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

© author

Vasudhara in art :Goddess of prosperity

              Vasudhara is the Goddess of wealth in Buddhism. Vasudhara literally means stream of gemsVasudhara is the Buddhist giver of wealth, similar to the Hindu Goddess Lakshmi.

 She is usually depicted seated in lalitasana (royal posture of ease) on a lotus with one foot tucked in towards her and the other hanging at the lotus base but resting on a small treasure.Her right hands make a gesture of generosity and holds a spray of gems. In her left hands she holds a manuscript,the Prajnaparamita-sutra, a sheaf of grain, and a water-pot. She can have two, four or six arms. She is a goddess of fertility and prosperity, and a consort of the wealth-god Jambhala. She is highly revered among the Buddhist Newars of the Kathmandu valley in Nepal.In this region she is a common household deity and it is believed that her worship brings wealth and stability. In Tibetan art she appears more commonly with two arms.

    She has been depicted as a beautiful woman in Buddhist art and can be identified as the bodhisattva with the elaborate head-dress and jewellery. Her skin has a golden hue in sculpture and painted images.This colour is related to  precious metals and symbolises opulence and fertility. Vashudhara had varied depictions; yellow Vasudhara (solitary) Dharani Tradition, yellow Vasudhara (solitary) Vajrapanjara Tradition, yellow Vasudhara (solitary, standing) Jamari Tradition, yellow cow-herd  Vasudhara (solitary, standing), red Manohara Vasudhara (solitary), red Vasudhara (solitary) Sakya tradition, yellow Vasudhara (six hands, solitary) Vasudhara with five deities and Vasudhara with nineteen deities.

Vasudhara, gilded copper sculptrure inlaid with semiprecious stones, 11th century, Nepal,Arthur M. Sackler Gallery,Washingfton,USA.

By Daderot – Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26697696

        When Goddess Vasudhara is two armed and single  faced, she has a golden hued body, representing the earth element, Ratnasambhava in her crown, sometimes two eyes or sometimes three eyes which represent perfect awareness, understanding, compassion, wisdom and insight into the past, present and future.

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Vasudhara, copper alloy sculpture with gemstones, late 12th-early 13th century,Nepal,LACMA,USA.

 

Attribution : http://www.flickr.com/photos/mark6mauno

           With her three left hands she holds a small treasure-vase, for long life and wealth,  a tuft of grain, for abundant harvest and a sacred text to grant wisdom. In her hands, Vasudhara holds a variety of objects attributed to her. Her first right hand makes the gesture of charity or the varada mudra,an another can be seen holding jewelled lotus buds.

 

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Vasudhara,copper alloy sculpture with gemstones ,12th century,Nepal, LACMA,USA.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Vasudhara Mandala, 14th century, Nepal.

By Jasaraja Jirili (Sotheby’s) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

File:Prince of Wales Museum Bombay si0092.jpg

Vasudhara, 14th century, Nepal,CSMVS Museum, Mumbai.

By G41rn8 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

References :

  • Thomas, P/Epics, myths and legends of India, Bombay : D. B. Taraporevala and Sons.
  • wikipedia.org
  • Fisher,Robert E./Buddhist art and architecture,London : Thames and Hudson,1993.
  • http://www.himalayanart.org

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

© author

Avalokitesvara images : varied depictions

       Avalokitesvara or Lord who looks down, is  a bodhisattva who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas. This bodhisattva is  depicted differently and described.In Chinese Buddhism he becomes the somewhat different female figure Guan-yin.  Avalokitesvara is also referred to as Padmapani ,holder of the Lotus or Lokesvara or Lord of the World. In Tibet, Avalokitesvara is Chenrezik. In Cambodia, he appears as Lokesvara. Avalokitesvara remained popular in India until the 12th century.

       In Mahayana Buddhism,as per the Karandavyuha sutra, the sun and moon are said to be born from Avalokitesvara’s eyes, Shiva from his brow, Brahma from his shoulders, Narayana from his heart, Saraswati from his teeth, the winds from his mouth, the earth from his feet and the sky from his stomach and he is an attendant of Amitabha. He is also mentioned in the Lotus sutra, Heart sutra, Nilakanthi dharani sutra and few others. From the 15th century, the Dalai Lamas are held to be his incarnations.

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Padmapani(Avalokitesvara), cave painting,6th century,Ajanta caves, Maharashtra.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

File:Water-Moon Avalokitesvara (Musee Guimet).jpg

Water moon Avalokitesvara,painting,10-14th century, Goryeo dynasty,Korea,Musee Guimet,France.

By Goryeo-Dynasty artist (http://tayler.tistory.com/679) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

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Padmapani, Nepal, 14th century, gilt bronze,Berkeley Art Museum,USA.

By Daderot (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

        Avalokitesvara is highly revered in Tibetan Buddhism, and is regarded in the Vajrayana teachings as a Buddha. He is depicted on a lotus pedestal in yogic control and with differently numbered arms and multiple headed too. In thangkas, the sun and moon emblems can be seen on top. It is believed in Tibet that Tara was formed from a teardrop of Avalokiteswara which became a lake which revealed her in a lotus opening.

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Chenrezik (Avalokitesvara), thangka, Tibet.

Attibution : http://www.flickr.com/photos/wonderlane

       Avalokitesvara has number of manifestations in different forms; Aryavalokitesvara,root form of the Bodhisattva,Ekadasamukha with  ten additional faces to teach all in ten planes of existence,Sahasra-bhuja Sahasra-netra thousand-armed, thousand-eyed sees and helps all beings. Chintamanichakra holds the bejewelled chintamani wheel; Hayagriva is a wrathful form. Cundi is a woman portrayed with many arms. Amoghapasa is with rope and net .

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 Avalokitesvara, brass sculpture, 11th century, Tibet,LACMA,USA.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

File:Avalokiteshvara (Guanyin), China, c. 1220-1300 AD, gilded bronze - Östasiatiska museet, Stockholm - DSC09614.JPG

Guanyin( Avalokitesvara), gilded bronze, 13th century,China,Östasiatiska Museet, Stockholm.

By Daderot (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

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Avalokitesvara, probably Padmapani Lokeshvara,  Newari painting by Anandamuni Shakya,1940s,Kathmandu, Nepal.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/wonderlane/8630165611

     There is a belief that Avalokitesvara had taken a vow to free all beings suffering in samsara, and his head splits into eleven pieces struggling  to understand everyone’s misery; Amitabha helps him to get eleven heads to hear and react to the cries of the suffering. However his hands are shattered too, Amitabha then gives him a thousand hands to reach out to help the needy.

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Avalokitesvara,sculpture,Le or Nguyen Dynasty,18th century,Vietnam.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/dalbera/15517356585..by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra

 

 

References :

  • Thomas, P/Epics, myths and legends of India, Bombay : D. B. Taraporevala and Sons.
  • wikipedia.org
  • Fisher,Robert E./Buddhist art and architecture,London : Thames and Hudson,1993.

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

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