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Volume 40 Number 2, March 1987

Volume 40 Number 2

Arts of Ancient Kashmir

The Enigma of Harwan
Robert E. Fisher

Buddhist Architecture
Robert E. Fisher

Stone Temples
Robert E. Fisher

Early Stone and Terracotta Sculpture
John Siudmak

Kashmir and the Tibetan Connection
Pratapaditya Pal

Exhibition Preview

The Enigma of Harwan
Fisher, Robert E.
Vol. 40 No. 2, March 1987, pp. 1-16 [Also in Art and Architecture of Ancient Kashmir edited by Pratapaditya Pal; Vol. 40 No. 2, March 1989; ISBN: 81-85026-06-8, pp. 1-16]

The ancient ruins at Harwan consist of several ruined foundations, and a large number of terracotta tiles, modest in size but rich in imagery and unlike any others known. All reports refer to Harwan as Buddhist and there is ample evidence of this association with the site. All the Buddhist remains at Harwan were found about the lower terraces. Upon reaching the highest terrace one encounters the ruins of an apsidal shrine and the unique courtyard of remarkable terracotta tiles, surrounded on 3 sides by a low wall of numbered plaques each portraying identical images of an emaciated ascetic figure. Neither the pavement tiles nor the plaques with figures of ascetics agree readily with known Buddhist sites. Although no firm evidence of Ajivika activity in Kashmir is known, the apsidal shrine, various motifs upon the tiles, and the emaciated ascetics agree with their known practices.

Buddhist Architecture
Fisher, Robert E.
Vol. 40 No. 2, March 1987, pp. 17-28 [Also in Art and Architecture of Ancient Kashmir edited by Pratapaditya Pal; Vol. 40 No. 2, March 1989; ISBN: 81-85026-06-8, pp. 17-28]

Prior to the process of Islamization that began in the 14th century in Kashmir, both Hinduism and Buddhism had flourished there for almost 2000 years. Today, the remnants of a few Hindu temples survive and Buddhist monuments are so fragmentary that their original forms must be completely reconstructed from other evidence. The most famous Buddhist monument is the stupa and even though no architectural example survives, its importance and distinctive form can be determined from literature and from artistic evidence. Apart from Harwan, the only Buddhist remains of archaeological value in Kashmir are at Ushkur and Parihasapura. Both are associated with the 8th-century Karkota ruler Lalitaditya and are located in the same general area of the Valley. Despite the ruinous condition of both sites, enough exists to add considerable information to the history of Kashmiri Buddhist architecture, including evidence of a new, composite structure where the traditionally separate buildings used for worship (chaityas - halls) and residences for monks (viharas) are joined into one.

Stone Temples
Fisher, Robert E.
Vol. 40 No. 2, March 1987, pp. 29-40 [Also in Art and Architecture of Ancient Kashmir edited by Pratapaditya Pal; Vol. 40 No. 2, March 1989; ISBN: 81-85026-06-8, pp. 29-40]

Of all the artistic remains in Kashmir, none is more distinctive than the stone temple. All the surviving stone temples are Hindu but there can be little doubt that the Buddhist temples were also built in the same style. In fact, many fundamental elements of Kashmiri Hindu temples probably derive from the earlier Buddhist models. In addition, foreign styles, which filtered through West Asia, played a minor role in the development of Kashmiri stone architecture. Kashmiri builders worked with massive stones, larger than those typically found throughout the rest of India. Hindu temples of the Karkota dynasty best exemplify the typical architectural style. Although no complete examples survive, the remains at Buniar, Martand, Pandrethan, and Payar reveal most of the features that have come to be understood as distinctive of the Kashmiri style. Many of the monuments are linked to Kashmir's remarkable king, Lalitaditya, who ruled during most of the first half of the 8th century. The Karkota period was followed by the Utpala dynasty (AD 856-939) and with it Kashmir's last era of vigorous temple building.

Early Stone and Terracotta Sculpture
Siudmak, John
Vol. 40 No. 2, March 1987, pp. 41-56 [Also in Art and Architecture of Ancient Kashmir edited by Pratapaditya Pal; Vol. 40 No. 2, March 1989; ISBN: 81-85026-06-8, pp. 41-56]

Most of the surviving stone sculptures from Kashmir date from the Karkota period when the style reached its maturity or from later. What may be regarded as the classical phase dates from the first half of the 8th century and flourished during the reign of Lalitaditya-Muktapida (circa second quarter of the 8th century). Although there is some evidence of direct Gupta influence, the predominant influence on the Kashmiri style was from the northwest, either from Gandhara or from the post-Gandhara tradition which survived in the region. The remains from this period can be classified into 2 groups: sculptures in the round and architectural relief work. There also existed a great tradition of miniature work. Most of the stone sculptures discussed in this article are from the Sri Pratap Singh Museum, Srinagar. The earliest terracotta finds from Kashmir are from Semthan, ancient Chakradhara, near Bejbehara. Two groups of Buddhist sculptures from Kashmir or within the area of Kashmiri influence, are the schools of Akhnur and Ushkur. They have been variously dated between the 5th and the 8th centuries and the Akhnur school is usually thought to be the earlier one. They clearly develop from the late Gandhara tradition of stucco sculpture.

Kashmir and the Tibetan Connection
Pal, Pratapaditya
Vol. 40 No. 2, March 1987, pp. 57-75 [Also in Art and Architecture of Ancient Kashmir edited by Pratapaditya Pal; Vol. 40 No. 2, March 1989; ISBN: 81-85026-06-8, pp. 117-135]

The present evidence indicates that the Kashmiri influence was strongly felt in Western Tibetan sculpture during the 10th and 11th centuries, when dozens of Kashmiri artists were present in the region. A parallel development was also witnessed in the surviving murals in the monasteries of Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, and Western Tibet. Despite the decay and destruction of many murals, an impressive number has survived. A strong Kashmiri style is dominant in the late 10th and 11th centuries and a more recognizably Tibetan style emerging from the 13th century. By far the largest number has survived at Alchi and Tabo, and although the murals show some stylistic differences, there is no doubt that they are 2 different expressions of the same aesthetic vision and painting tradition. It is now generally recognized that these murals are of as great an interest for the history of Kashmiri painting as they are for Tibetan. The chance survival of some 11th-century examples of manuscripts from Western Tibet demonstrates that there was a tradition of illuminating manuscripts in the Kashmiri style.

Exhibition Preview
Vol. 40 No. 2, March 1987, pp. 76-78

The arts of the Timurid dynasty in Persia and Central Asia, reviewed by William Lillys.