The first-ever catalogue of stone sculptures collected from different parts of West Bengal, Bihar, and parts of Bangladesh belonging to Brahmanical, Buddhist, and Jain pantheon has been published by Directorate of Archaeology and Museum, Department of Information and Cultural Affairs, Government of West Bengal.
Archaeologists say the first-ever catalogue of historical stone sculptures in the region titled Vibrant Rock contains a comprehensive details of 444 stone sculptures housed in the State Archaeological Museum at Behala in the southern parts of the city, dated between the sixth and 19th century AD. Continue reading →
A bronze sculpture with silver and copper inlay depicts Buddha and his followers on the cosmic mountain, Kashmir, circa 700.
At a time when museums seem to be torn between blockbusters and specialized scholarship, it’s refreshing to come across “In the Land of Snow: Buddhist Art of the Himalayas” at the Norton Simon Museum, a no-nonsense exhibition that spares the bells and whistles to make a strong case for the virtues of amateurism.
Not that long ago, before America was a nation of over-professionalized experts, pretension was something to be made fun of and it was OK to be an amateur. The word’s Latin root is “lover.” Admiration is essential to its definition.
Those emotions form the heart and soul of the two-gallery exhibition, which was organized by assistant curator Melody Rod-ari. Made up of 34 ceremonial objects of Vajrayana or Tantric Buddhism, all but two of which are drawn from the Pasadena museum’s impressive holdings of Asian art, “In the Land of Snow” is both manageable and satisfying.
Fumiaki Ogita sits next to his Buddhist statuette he carved out of a live tree in Shikokuchuo, Ehime Prefecture. (Haruko Hosokawa)
KANONJI, Kagawa Prefecture–Far from home, a sculptor of Buddhist images from the city here has started work on a large tree on a famed pilgrimage route in Molinaseca, Spain.
The sculptor Bonkai, whose real name is Fumiaki Ogita, hopes that his Buddhist sculpture will serve as a connection between the island of Shikoku in Japan with the Spanish town, both well-known for their pilgrimage routes. Continue reading →
Krishna Govardhana, from seventh-century southern Cambodia National Museum of Cambodia, Phnom Penh
The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “Lost Kingdoms: Hindu-Buddhist Sculpture of Early Southeast Asia” is a monumental show in about every sense of the word. At least one third of its 150-plus works are large sculptures and reliefs. Almost 100 pieces traveled from institutions across Southeast Asia. And the show’s very concept reflects new findings and directions in scholarship. The result is a show with as much to attract specialists—from inscriptions on first-time loans from Myanmar or the earliest-known statue of Vishnu from southern Cambodia—as there is to delight art lovers generally.
The works range from a toothy, monstrous figure looking down from a lintel (mid-seventh-century central Cambodia) to a majestic bodhisattva made slightly later in southern Vietnam. And nothing beats the beauty and animation of an early seventh-century life-size statue from southern Cambodia depicting the Hindu god Krishna looking most pleased with himself as, the story goes, he holds a mountain up and out of reach of a rival god’s wrath. Nearby, a Vishnu from central Thailand (late sixth to seventh century) offers a serious, warriorlike counterpoint. Broad-shouldered and muscular, he appears as strong and dependable as the rock from which he is hewn.
Lost Kingdoms: Hindu-Buddhist Sculpture Of Early Southeast Asia, 5th to 8th Century Metropolitan Museum of Art Through July 27
The bulmo, or Buddhist artist, Heo Kil-yang carves a “Heavenly Maid” sculpture in his atelier in Paju, Gyeonggi. To create Buddhist sculptures, he goes through an elaborate process, including cutting, trimming and chiseling.
Throughout time, many Korean artists have found artistic inspiration from Buddhism. For more than 1,000 years, Buddhism permeated into the everyday life of Korean people, and thus Buddhist art prospered all around the peninsula.Those who carve the statue of Buddha are called the bulmo, which literally means “the mother of Buddha.” The name came from comparing the strenuous process of carving a statue of Buddha to a mother giving birth to a baby.
This year, artist Heo Kil-yang celebrates his 46th year as a bulmo. Having devoted his entire life to creating Buddhist art, he is a quintessential figure in the Buddhist arts. Continue reading →
6 March – 26 April 2014 at Throckmorton Fine Art, New York
China, Head of a Bodhisattva, Eastern Wei Period / Northern Qi Period, 535-577 CE, Marble, Height: 13 1/4 inches, Cat#8
Throckmorton Fine Art is pleased to offer an exhibit of thirty-one, early Chinese Buddhist sculptures. These works of art are rare survivors of Buddhist purges in the past; many were buried for centuries. They have been carefully cleaned, revealing their sublime beauty and refined elegance. Each piece has been carefully studied by Chinese scholars, with photographs and analyses included in an accompanying catalogue prepared under the guidance of Dr. Qing Chang and Dr. Elizabeth Childs-Johnson. Continue reading →
Chinese artist Zhang Huan—whose hallucinatory interlocking skull paintings were featured here in September—has never been shy about uncomfortable subject matter. It’s little surprise, then, that upon his return to China in 2005 after eight years in New York, he headed right for Tibet. As a practicing Buddhist himself, Huan’s travels there deeply affected him, especially encountering the lingering echoes of the Communist demolition of Tibet’s Buddhist monasteries during the Cultural Revolution. His creative mind absorbed the experience and the resultant artwork went big: a series of monumental sculptures of distorted and disembodied Buddha fragments. Continue reading →
The main figure in this stone sculpture from the 900s shows many characteristic features of images of the Buddha. Here we see elements that tell us we’re in the presence of the Buddha as he was on the threshold of achieving enlightenment. Above his head are branches of heart-shaped leaves. They indicate the sacred bodhi tree, under which he is said to have attained enlightenment some 2,500 years ago. For more information: http://www.asianart.org/collections/buddha-triumphing-over-mara
Figure 1: Mogao Grottoes along the cliff, Dunhuang, Gobi Desert, China
Among the must-see treasures of the world are the 1600 year old Dunhuang cave-temple museums. They include the Mogao Grottoes, the Yulin Grottoes, the Western Thousand Buddha Grottoes, the Eastern Thousand Buddha Grottoes, and the Five Temple Grottoes.
Among them, Mogaoku (the Mogao Grottoes, also known as Caves of Thousand Buddhas) is the most magnificent. A total of 735 caves (including 492 containing artwork) have been identified. They were constructed along the cliff facing east, extending from north to south ( Figure 1). The decorated caves are found mainly in the southern section.
Cave art is an invention of the ancient Indian Buddhists, but their achievement was far surpassed by the Chinese grottoes, both in grandeur and in the length of time the original artwork has remained in situ.
Besides the ample achievement in visual art, the Dunhuang art is a witness to the toleration and fusion of different cultures. It didn’t inherit any one single style; instead it assimilated many different influences from metropolitan China, Central Asia and India, and integrated them into a unique style.
This Buddha has a unique status among Buddhas in China. It bears an inscription on the back that is equivalent to the year 338. This is the earliest date inscribed on any Buddha sculpture from China, anywhere in the world. Listen to Michael Knight, Curator Emeritus of Chinese Art at the Asian Art Museum, discuss one of the museum’s masterworks, a Seated Buddha from 338, as you view images of the object and a rendering in 3D. For more information: http://www.asianart.org/collections/seated-buddha