Category Archives: India

EXHIBITION “Avalokitesvara/Guanyin: Feminine symbolism in Buddhist Art” a photography show at Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), 1, Central Vista (CV) Mess, Janpath > 27th March to 10th April 2017

Entry : Free

Venue : Twin Art Gallery 2, Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), 1, Central Vista (CV) Mess, Janpath, New Delhi-110001
Landmark : Opp. National Archives, adjoining India Gate Lawns
Venue Info : Events | About | Map
Metro : Nearest Metro Station – ‘Central Sectt.’ (Yellow Line and Violet Line)

Event Description : EXHIBITION “Avalokitesvara/Guanyin: Feminine symbolism in Buddhist Art” a photography show.

Avalokitesvara is the most popular Mahayana Bodhisattva and his cult has played an important role in the growth of Mahayana Buddhism and art. The images of Avalokitesvara in India are not feminine, although the body has a sensual form. The well known painting of Padmapani in Cave No.1 of Ajanta no doubt has a sensuous body, but taken as a whole, looks a male Bodhisattva. The paintings of the famous artist Ravi Varma, do not show Hindu Gods as strongly masculine. Essential features of manliness like muscles, broad shoulders are present but there is a touch of conspicuous feminine quality in the images.

It is not known exactly when the Guan-yin came to be regarded as female deity for the first time. Majority of the scholars are of the opinion that the transformation of Guan-yin into female deity took place about the 11th century A. D. But this seems to have been the product of a long process and this might have been influenced by many factors combined to bring the sexual transformation.

[link]

Where India and China Meet: Buddhist Art as Common Heritage

Stone tablet of the Buddha with two Bodhisattvas, 190cm by 100cm by 40cm, 582CE. Image courtesy of the Beijing Palace Museum.

Medium.com

Jinah Kim, Gardner Cowles Associate Professor of History of Art and Architecture, examines how an exhibition on Buddhist art at Beijing’s Palace Museum could establish the foundation for greater dialogue and understanding between India and China. This blog post first appeared in the Harvard University South Asia Institute’s “Faculty Voices” series, and has been lightly edited for the Fairbank Center blog by James Evans.

A first major loan exhibition of Indian art in Beijing was recently held in the majestic Meridian Gate tower of the Palace Museum of the Forbidden City (see a virtual tour of the exhibition here.) “Across the Silk Road: Gupta Sculptures and their Chinese Counterparts during 400 to 700CE” was an ambitious exhibition conceived by the senior curatorial fellow of the Palace Museum, Dr. Lou Wenhua, after his visit to India three years ago.

Fifty-six sculptures from nine Indian museums were on display against a red backdrop in one gallery, while two adjacent galleries were filled with over one hundred Chinese Buddhist sculptures against blue backdrop. Bringing this exhibition together was an impressive feat by the organizers in Beijing, which, of course, was not possible without collaborative efforts from many museum personnel and officers in India.


While the China-India bilateral relationship is not as rosy and warm as anticipated (i.e. India’s failed entry into the NSG at the Seoul plenary, as well as the China Pakistan Economic Corridor developments — part of President Xi Jinping’s Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Maritime Silk Road projects), the exhibition reminds us of the age-old connections between the two countries, notably activated and solidified through the transmission of Buddhism. It also opens up new possibilities for trans-regional connections in the future that may benefit tremendously from a mutual understanding of each other’s culture and history.

The time frame of the exhibition, from 400 to 700CE, is the period in which three Chinese monk-pilgrims, Faxian 法顯 (337-c.422CE), Xuanzang 陳褘 (602–664CE) and Yijing 義淨 (635–713CE), visited India. Their travelogues are enthusiastically mined as indispensable records for understanding the history of Indian Buddhism and the history of early medieval India, although they are at times unfortunately without any critical consideration of the Chinese monks’ own cultural prejudices and political motivations. The exhibition heralds “Gupta sculptures” as its main anchor perhaps unwittingly perpetuating a notion of the Gupta period (c. 320–550) as the “classical” or “golden” age of Indian Art, formulated during the early twentieth century. The selection is commendably wider in scope, however, in terms of the range of dates and the variety of iconography (from a circa third century Buddhist sculpture, to a circa fifth century Jaina stele, to circa seventh century Hindu sculptures).

The Palace Museum and the Forbidden City Cultural Heritage Conservation Foundation organized an international symposium to accompany the exhibition. I was invited to participate in it as an expert on Indian Buddhist art along with other foreign scholars from India and elsewhere (including the Fairbank Center’s Professor Leonard van der Kuijp). The three-day symposium was packed with speakers presenting on a variety of topics with about two thirds of papers on Chinese Buddhist sculptures of the period between 400 to 700CE. It was an exciting opportunity to learn about discoveries of new art historical materials from recent excavations.
On the India side, according to Dr. B. R. Mani, a respected archaeologist and the current director of India’s National Museum in New Delhi, a recent excavation at Sarnath, the celebrated pilgrimage site of Buddha’s first sermon, revealed material evidence for the hitherto-unnoticed existence of a sculptors’ workshop at the site. Many more new findings in China were shared with much enthusiasm and excitement. Chinese archaeologists seem to be discovering and excavating many more Buddhist sites and other related historical sites than ever before. The sheer amount of historical details and art historical evidence that emerge from these new excavations is incredible.

Continue reading

Archaeologists flee survey site after mob attack in Lakhisarai

Hindustan Times

Remains of the stupa found at Ghosikund mound of Lakhisarai district of Bihar. (HT photo)

Remains of the stupa found at Ghosikund mound of Lakhisarai district of Bihar. (HT photo)

Archaeologists trying to survey a recently discovered Buddhist site in Ghosikund village of Chanan area in Lakhisarai, ran into a wall of protestors who took to violence to block the site, where they want an engineering college to come up instead.

Ghosikund hillock, which has been partly excavated, has thrown up a rich historical sequence of artefacts, right from pre-Buddhist times to the age of Guptas and Palas and promises to add to the rich historical legacy of the state. The uncovered site is believed to have thrown up a casket containing Buddha’s remains, as is mentioned in Cunningham’s travelogues of British times.

“Call it ignorance, or contempt for history, the region continues to witness conflict between heritage and modernity,” said an archaeologist.

Last week when a team of experts and research scholars from Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal visited the site for inspection, they were opposed and manhandled by the locals and forced to leave. The team was formed by the state government to survey the site in Lakhisarai and chalk out a conservation strategy.

“It’s shocking. Though efforts to get the site conserved have been going on for the last many years, Lakhisarai district administration cleared nearly seven-acre of land for an engineering college at the site in May 2016. Land measurement works had also begun and it stopped only when the culture secretary intervened,” Vinod Kumar, coordinator of Dharohar Bachaao Samiti, Lakhisarai, told HT.

He said, locals had very little awareness about history and heritage. The worst came on February 13 when the team reached the hilltop. “Suddenly a large number of locals appeared and began opposing the team. They demanded a stop to the archaeological survey and became very aggressive. Team members had to be leave and take shelter in car. But they assaulted me and damaged my mobile phone and camera,” Kumar said. “We informed the Lakhisarai superintendent of police (SP) about the incident. Continue reading

China to help KP preserve archaeological sites

Dawn
SADIA QASIM SHAH — PUBLISHED Feb 14, 2017 06:53am

PESHAWAR: The governments of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and China’s Shaanxi province on Monday joined hands for sustainable bilateral development under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project by signing a memorandum of understanding to preserve cultural heritage that connects both the historic regions rich in archaeological sites.

Chief Archaeology at the Silk Route Research Institution of the Northwest University of China Prof Wang Jian Xin and director at Xian Centre Li Tao along with other delegation members signed the MoU with the KP Directorate of Archaeology and Museums during a simple ceremony filled with a friendly atmosphere of mutual understanding and love for archaeology and cultural heritage despite language barrier.

Li Tao translated the conversations between culture and archaeology secretary Mohammad Tariq and Prof Wang, who were on the same page regarding the preservation of cultural heritage of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with opportunities that have emerged with the CPEC project.

Secretary Mohammad Tariq appreciated the Chinese delegation’s willingness to help preserve KP’s intangible cultural heritage saying China itself has a high-tech National Intangible Cultural Heritage Centre in Beijing. Continue reading

Archaeological site in ruins

 The protected archaeological site of Rohanpur Octagonal Tomb in Gomostapur upazila under Chapainawabganj is getting ruined due to alleged negligence of the authorities concerned. Photo: RABIUL HASAN


The protected archaeological site of Rohanpur Octagonal Tomb in Gomostapur upazila under Chapainawabganj is getting ruined due to alleged negligence of the authorities concerned. Photo: RABIUL HASAN

The Daily Star
December 01, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, December 01, 2016

Rabiul Hasan
The protected archaeological site of Naoda Buruj in Gomostapur upazila under the district is getting encroached by illegal occupiers, thanks to the negligence of the authorities responsible for its maintenance and preservation.

Over fifty poor families from different areas have built houses at the site and people often dig soil and collect bricks from there, locals alleged.

The building, also locally known as Sar Buruj, now resembles a mound and there is a signboard set by the Department of Archaeology.

During a recent visit, this correspondent found a woman using the top of the mound for drying paddy while two antique black stones were seen lying on the soil.

Earlier on different times, locals found some antiques from the area and after being informed, officials of the archaeology department collected those from them, they said.

Mohammad Mojnu, a carpenter, said he built a house at the site and started living there with his family as he is a poor landless man.

Rice mill worker Razia Sultana and truck driver Johurul Islam are also among over 50 poor families who built houses around Naoda Buruj.

Atikur Rahman, teacher of Yousuf Ali College in Rohanpur, said the Department of Archaeology hung a signboard but they have hardly taken any initiative to preserve the site.

local land grabbers build several houses just beside Naoda Buruj, another archaeological site in the area. Photo: RABIUL HASAN

local land grabbers build several houses just beside Naoda Buruj, another archaeological site in the area. Photo: RABIUL HASAN

Continue reading

FOCUS ON THE INNER BUDDHA

t330_156054_1The Pioneer
Saturday, 03 December 2016 | Saritha Saraswathy Balan

Celebrating peace is the core of Nirvana, a performance choreographed in Odissi and Chhau by Aniruddha Das and Nibedita Mohapatra. By Saritha Saraswathy Balan

Nirvana, a transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire nor sense of self, which is commonly called moksha (salvation), is what people have within them but fail to tap into. Nirvana is also about Yashodhara, the wife of Siddhartha Gautama, who did a supreme sacrifice after realising that the man she married was meant for the society and not just for her.

“People have illusions in their life. Many of them seek peace, not aware of the fact that it is there within themselves. Through Nirvana, we are trying to convey a message to look into yourself and find peace,” says dancer Aniruddha Das who along with Nibedita Mohapatra has choreographed a piece on the subject.

“Normally, choreography in classical dance forms is about Rama and Krishna. We decided to do something different. We attempted to answer the question that if Gautama, a prince, could leave earthly pleasures for propagating peace, then why couldn’t we start searching for it in ourselves,” he adds.

Nirvana was presented on the first day of the Natya Ballet Dance Festival on Thursday. About how effectively a message rooted in Buddhist philosophy, which is not followed by a majority, could be communicated to the audience, Aniruddha says that it is possible with visual art. “It is like watching a movie rather than listening to a lecture. We can create the world in visual art that will be played on stage. It could leave a lasting impact on the audience,” he adds.

Nibedita says that through their presentation, they’ve attempted to add a bit of contemporary element into classical dance. “We focussed on Yashodhara, for whom coping with the reality that her husband’s life was for the society was painful. Siddhartha left when his child, Rahul, was very young. Yashodhara didn’t give up and later became a bhikshuni, (a Buddhist nun). Discussion on Yasodhara’s life didn’t happen quite often as it did about Buddha. It’s similar to Lakshman and Urmila in Ramayana. An unknown sacrifice is there behind every great life. The balance in the society is maintained by a man-woman relationship, not solely by men,” Nibedita observes. She adds, “We searched for a poem to narrate Yashodhara’s life and finally we found Yashodhara: Six Seasons Without You by Subhash Jaireth.” Continue reading

Faculty Voices: Where India and China Meet

2-280x173Where India and China Meet: Buddhist Art Exhibition in Palace Museum, Beijing

By Jinah Kim, Gardner Cowles Associate Professor of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University

Kim received a SAI Faculty Grant for her research on Indian painting.

A first major loan exhibition of Indian art in Beijing, China is currently held in the majestic Meridian gate tower of the Palace Museum (September 28, 2016- January 3 2017) of the Forbidden City (see a virtual tour of the exhibition here.) “Across the Silk Road: Gupta Sculptures and their Chinese Counterparts during 400 to 700CE” is an ambitious exhibition conceived by the senior curatorial fellow of the Palace Museum, Dr. Lou Wenhua, after his visit to India over 3 years ago. Fifty-six sculptures from nine Indian Museums are on display against a red backdrop in one gallery, while two adjacent galleries are filled with over one hundred Chinese Buddhist sculptures against blue backdrop. Bringing this exhibition together is an impressive feat by the organizers in Beijing, which, of course, was not possible without collaborative efforts from many museum personnel and officers in India.

When the China-India bilateral relationship is not as rosy and warm as anticipated (i.e. India’s failed entry into the NSG at the Seoul plenary, CPEC [China Pakistan Economic Corridor] developments—part of President Xie Jinping’s Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Maritime Silk Road projects), the exhibition reminds us of the age old connections between the two countries, notably activated and solidified through the transmission of Buddhism. It also opens up new possibilities of trans-regional connections for the future that may benefit tremendously from mutual understanding of each other’s culture and history.

The time frame of the exhibition, from 400 to 700CE, is the period in which three Chinese monk-pilgrims to India, Faxian (337-c.422CE), Xuanzang (602-664CE) and Yijing (635-713CE), visited India. Their travelogues are enthusiastically mined as indispensable records for understanding the history of Indian Buddhism and the history of early medieval India, at times unfortunately without any critical consideration of the Chinese monks’ own cultural prejudices and political motivations. The exhibition heralds “Gupta sculptures” as its main anchor perhaps unwittingly perpetuating a notion of the Gupta period (Gupta dynasty: c. 320-550) as the “classical” or “golden” age of Indian Art, formulated during the early twentieth century. However, the selection is commendably wider in scope in terms of the range of dates and the variety of iconography (from a circa third century Buddhist sculpture, to a circa fifth century Jaina stele, to circa seventh century Hindu sculptures). Continue reading