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Volume 39 Number 4, September 1986

Volume 39 Number 4

Buddhist Art - New Studies

A Pre-Kushan Buddha Image from Mathura
Pratapaditya Pal 

A Gandharan Bronze Buddha Statuette: Its Place in the Evolution of the Buddha Image in Gandhara
Martha L. Carter

The Case of the Two Witnesses to the Buddha’s Enlightenment
Janice Leoshko

The Persistence of Buddhism in Tamil Nadu
Vidya Dehejia

Muslim Architecture in Gujarat prior to the Islamic Conquest
Mehrdad Shokoohy

Exhibition Previews 

A Pre-Kushan Buddha Image from Mathura
Pal, Pratapaditya
Vol. 39 No. 4, September 1986, pp. 1-20 [Also in A Pot-Pourri of Indian Art edited by Pratapaditya Pal; Vol. 39 No. 4, September 1988; ISBN: 81-85026-04-1, pp. 1-20]

This paper introduces and discusses a small sculpture that may well be one of half a dozen or so Buddha images from Mathura, that can be given a pre-Kanishka date. It differs significantly from the well-known "Kanardin" type Buddha steles that have become the hallmark of Buddhist art of Kushan Mathura. The sculpture is in the collection of Vasant Choudhury of Calcutta. It shows the Buddha seated in the usual fashion with his right hand displaying the gesture of reassurance and the left placed on the folded left leg. Interestingly, unlike the "Katra" type of steles which are really deeply carved reliefs, this sculpture is carved in the round.

A Gandharan Bronze Buddha Statuette: Its Place in the Evolution of the Buddha image in Gandhara
Carter, Martha L.
Vol. 39 No. 4, September 1986, pp. 21-38 [Also in A Pot- Pourri of Indian Art edited by Pratapaditya Pal; Vol. 39 No. 4, September 1988; ISBN: 81-85026-04-1, pp. 21-38]

An unusual early Buddha image has been acquired by the M. Nitta Collection of Tokyo. This diminutive bronze Buddha shows itself as an anomaly in the evolution of the Buddha image in Gandhara.This writer believes it to be a work of singular importance, since it offers insight into the process within which the Gandharan Buddha image evolved. She suggests that it was during the middle decades of the 1st century that Roman artistic influence first reached Gandhara to become a part of the complex interweaving factors that produced the fascinatingly hybrid style of Gandharan Buddhist sculpture of the Kushan era. Whether the inspiration for the Nitta Buddha statuette was actually a portrait of the youthful Nero or not is not known, but the dates of his reign and the intensity of commercial activity between Rome and India at the time, make this not unlikely.

The Case of the Two Witnesses to the Buddha's Enlightenment
Leoshko, Janice
Vol. 39 No. 4, September 1986, pp. 39-52 [Also in A Pot-Pourri of Indian Art edited by Pratapaditya Pal; Vol. 39 No. 4, September 1988; ISBN: 81-85026-04-1, pp. 39-52]

While the visual role of the earth as witness for the Buddha may have been somewhat nominal to start with, after the Gupta period in India and elsewhere in the Buddhist world, it became a significant component in the conception of the Buddha in bhumisparsha mudra (earth-touching gesture). In some representations of the scene of Enlightenment two rather than one "witness" were shown. While this is not documented in the Indian Buddhist literature, Xuanzang, the Chinese pilgrim who visited India in the 7th century, noted what is clearly a lost tradition. The developments noted in this article in the portrayal of the dual earth goddesses offer important evidence for understanding how and why the depiction of certain deities evolved in later periods of Buddhist art. The fact that these two females and the defeated form of Mara are the only elements that were regularly retained in later images of the Buddha in bhumisparsha mudra may indicate that such works were primarily intended to emphasize the importance of religious practice in overcoming obstacles to enlightenment.

The Persistence of Buddhism in Tamil Nadu
Dehejia, Vidya
Vol. 39 No. 4, September 1986, pp. 53-74 [Also in A Pot-Pourri of Indian Art edited by Pratapaditya Pal; Vol. 39 No. 4, September 1988; ISBN: 81-85026-04-1, pp. 53-74]

The later history of Buddhism in peninsular India has aroused little enthusiasm among scholars, and those who have made it their concern speak only of the town of Nagapattinam in the Tamil country. However, the much wider prevalence of Buddhism in the Tamil country is indicated by a range of stone images, several over lifesize, recovered from a variety of sites in the districts of Tanjore and Trichinopoly. Nagapattinam itself, while known to scholars, has not received the attention it deserves. It was a major centre of Buddhism and commenced casting Buddhist bronzes in the 9th century, and continued to produce such images right into the 17th century. A variety of texts indicate the popularity of Buddhism in south India in the 6th and early 7th centuries, and Kanchipuram, today a town of Hindu temples, is mentioned repeatedly as a site that had acquired great renown as a Buddhist centre.

Note: Muslim Architecture in Gujarat Prior to the Islamic Conquest
Shokoohy, Mehrdad
Vol. 39 No. 4, September 1986, pp. 75-78

Gujarat was perhaps the only region in India with an established tradition of Islamic architecture before the Muslim conquest. Through Muslim merchants and traders, Islam was taken to the coastal towns in India, and many Muslim settlements developed from the 9th century onwards. Persian and Arab geographers report several towns in India under Hindu rule, with Islamic communities who freely practised their religion and had their own mosques. The buildings of one of the early Muslim communities of India still exist on the coast of Gujarat in Bhadreshwar, on the coast of Kutch. The important Muslim buildings in Bhadreshwar and Junagadh as well as the architectural styles of the buildings are discussed in this note.

Exhibition Previews: "Icons of Piety, Images of Whimsy: Asian Terra-cottas from the Walter-Grounds Collection"; Mriga-A Festival of India Exhibition in Japan
Markel, Stephen and Pal, Pratapaditya
Vol. 39 No. 4, September 1986, pp. 79-84

With this number Marg presents a new feature to its readers. Rather than publish reviews of exhibitions, Marg will present previews of major exhibitions devoted to Asian art in India and abroad. This issue features Asian Terracottas from the Walter-Grounds Collection, reviewed by Stephen Markel and Mriga: Animals in Indian Art reviewed by Pratapaditya Pal.