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May 20, 1956 - Image 11

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Michigan Daily, 1956-05-20
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Page Eight


Sunday, May 20, 1956

ni ;ntv. AMnv 20. "956


.aus uvTj a aaT vl i irw _ _ _ , _

Indian Art Is An Integral
Part of Everyday Life

The Art of A People
Continuity of Indian Art Expresses An Ageless Cultu

(Continued from Page 5)
and seductive eternal bridegroom,
The temple at Elephanta, an is-
land off Bombay, is the eighth cen-
tury monument of the god Shiva,
the collosal sculpture dwarfing
man, who comes only to its knees.
Here Shiva's symbol, the lingam,
is sculptured in the great columns
of the temple, and his many as-
pects from the bridegroom of Par-
vati to Nataraja the dancer, and
even as the destroyer, where the
terrifying god holds in his many
arms tools of destruction, is por-
trayed in stone.
Later Developments .«.
LATER, in the seventeenth and
eighteenth centuries, these gods
were portrayed in the Rajput
paintings, particularly Krishna,
whose mischevious pranks, such as
stealing the milkmaids' clothes,
made him a popular subject with

court artists and folk .artists alike.
Krishna is often spoken of as
the "cowherd" and the women in
his company, the milkmaids, as
Gopis. The cows symbolically
stand for people, and gopis repre-
sent the souls. Rasa is the volup-
tuous pastoral dance he engages in
with the Gopis in the Raiput
THE folk paintings up to the
present day continue in the
great Indian tradition. True, the
Njanta line drawings are less fine
than their later Rajput counter-
part, and the bold Bengal folk art-
ist's brash brush stroke portraying
Krishna and the Gopis is unlike
the delicate line of the Raiput
painters, but the continuity is
everywhere in evidence. The Indian
art may change in mood and en-
vironment, but not in its formula
or convention. It is still an art of
the Indian people, a reflection of
their religion, of their philosophy,
and their lives.

GUPTA BUDDHA-This sculp-
ture shows the Buddha preach-
ing in the deer park, the place
where he became enlightened.
The posture is traditional.

CAVE ARCHITECTURE-A picture of Vihara, or religious "mon-
astery," hewn out of rock in the seventh century at Aanta. These
Viharas are the source of some of the most beautiful Gupta paint-
ings in India.


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THE ART of India is a vibrant
art, an art portraying violence,
gentleness, virility. It is the people
reflected into the quiet stone carv-
ing of the acetic at Mamallapu-
ram, and in the exotic and terrify-
ing frenzy seen in the bronze
"dancer of the burning ground,"
Nataraja. The art of India is not
just OUTSIDE life, it is an integ-
ral part of it.
The art of India is difficult to
trace, for its earliest forms are so
interwoven with the life of the
people as to seem commonplace to
the Westerner. The sacrifice of a
goat to the altar of Kali was con-
sidered an art, the digging of a
well was given as much signifi-
cance as the carving of an image
of a god.
CURIOSITY is the great univer-
sal provoker of "truth"-so it
was in India. And the first curi-
osity was about man himself: why?
how? where? what? who?-and
the curiosity had to be satisfied.
On the satisfying was built one of
the world's greatest religions, Hin-
Without any knowledge of Hin-
duism, the art of India becomes
not only "unintelligible," but "vul-
gar" to the Westerner. In Indian
art more than in any other graphic
art, the philosophy and the religion
are so integral, that it becomes im-
possible to know one without un-
derstanding at least a small part
of the other.
With man's curiosity in his own
being and in his own creation and
re-creation, it was not unusual for
the earliest gods, even before the
actual beginning of the more so-
phisticated Hindu dieties, to be
gods of fertility and fecundity.
Thus, some of the earliest sculpture
found is that of yakshis (female
dieties of fecundity) and yakshas
(male dieties of fertility). And
even before the personification of
these gods, the lingam (male sym-
bol) and the yoni (female symbol)
were carved from stone and wor-
N 1500 B.C., with the conception
of Vedic Hymns, the artist again
found his subject matter in reli-
gion. The Vedas were the sacred
books of the Brahamans or priests,
made up of liturgical texts, hymns,
and sacrificial formulas. The gods
whose praises were sung in the
hymns became themes for works
of art and were personified by the
For example, Agni, the altar fire,
was depicted as a two-headed god,
one head symbolizing the Brahm-
anical fire, the other representing
the domestic fire. His four arms
bore sacrificial implements, the
axe for cutting wood, the torch to
kindle it, a fan to fan the fire, and
a spoon for casting in the offer-
ing. Eventually the god became
the symbol of the Universal Force.
Thus, we can see how a two-
headed god with four arms, ex-
tremely peculiar to our Western
eyes, had a logical beginning and a
reason for being to the Indian art-
Buddhist Art . .
STARTING hundreds of years
after Hinduism, but cutting
across its influence both in religion
and art, was 'Buddhism. Buddha
lived from 563 to 483 B.C. and his
influence on the art of India is of
This is Mrs. Hamme's first
contribution to the Sunday
Magazine4 She is currently
working for a degree in design,
having previously received a
BA.. and M.A. in creative writ-
ing. Mrs. Hamme has an es-
pecial interest in the art of In-
dia, the study of which she has

pursued for the past few years._f

no less importance than that off
the Hindu gods and the depiction1
of the Hindu legends.1
Asoka, -the Buddhist emperor
living in the third century B.C.
is given credit for "inventing"
one of the oldest of Buddhist mon-
uments, the Stupa. The stupa more
rightly should be 'called a reli-
quary, and each one, in its con-
ception, was purported to contain7
a small fraction of the Buddha's
ashes, making that stupa sacred. -
The stupa of Barhut, now exist-
ing only in fragments, is the oldest
Buddhist art known today, datingc
back to 150 B.C. The stupa is a
dome shape, so built to symbolize
the universe resting on the circu-
lar horizon of the earth.
Around the stupas are great fen-
ces or railings, their practical as-
pect to keep out plunderers, their
artistic aspects elegantly sculp-
tured scenes of the life of Buddha.
But in the early stupas no pic-
tures of the Buddha himself are
r y p
K ;.
3 4/
- K
p 4
dhist figure from Ajanta is typi-
cal of the ideal female form in
Indian art, and shows the con-
tinuity of tradition from the
go ess o fecundity a au
to the Asparas or heavenly diety
of Ajanta; 650 A.D.,
seen-only the symbols tell us of
his presence, a royal umbrella or
footprints carved in stone. Buddha
was considered too sacred to be
portrayed by the artists.
f se w
idezd andpthre arint thad sa sr
ofm"canon of aty" that traitin"
htel thmwt in thei coespnt
of the grec nd deites. o t
Thguestion fmthe body was
almosthe alay in dairnce ptre,
wi thsal Waunit, roundes bes,
and large hips. The body was

never nude, but always bejeweled
with necklaces, earrings, bracelets
and anklets. The jewelry was cary-

ed in such a way as to enhance the
beauty of the figure itself, so it
became a part of the form, not
something "added to it."
Tradition & Change ...
FOR almost 500 years, from the
beginning of the Barhut Stupa
and the Stupa at Amaravati, tradi-
tion guided the artist in his sculp-
ture of the Buddhist faith. True,
there was more refinement in the
figures, and the women portrayed
at Amaravati were a slimmer pro-
totype as were the Dravidian
peoples themselves slimmer who
sculptured at Amaravati-but the
continuity of Indian tradition could
not be denied.
The mood changed slightly, the
figures at Barhut almost all in
postures of worship, while the
scenes at Amaravati were more in-
formal, and musicians and dancers
were sculptured, And the Buddha
himself was finally portrayed. But
not until the Gandhara School of
Art was the superb portrayal of
the yakshi, the female sacred fig-
ure, altered from its volumptuous
ideal to the material ludicrousness
of this Later Andra Period,
While Indian culture continued
to thrive in the Ganges Region,
in northwest Indian Gandhara had
fallen to thelast heirs of Alexan-
der. During this period (50 to 320
A.D.) Gandhara became, for all
practical purposes, a Hellenistic
The art produced was an abor-
tive art losing all the spontaneity
of the Indian tradition and incor-
porating only the flaws of the
European tradition. The Culmina-
tion of the Buddha image was im-
manent, but the Gandhara school
showed the figure of Buddha as a
draped, fleshy, often mustached
At Mathura, the Indian tradi-
tion had created Buddha super-
human in conception, with eyes
that "saw into eternity," a full
mouth symbolizing the "full mes-
sage" whch the Buddha taught,
and "naked earlobes" representing
his casting off of worldly posses-
sions such as the. long earrings
worn by the men of the world. At
Mathura the artist had shown the
Buddha as an ideal, a great being
not of the flesh, but removed from
humanity, an abstraction,
THE Gupta school which follow-
ed fulfilled the promise of the
Mathura school, and this period
(fifth century A.D.) saw the cul-
mination of the Buddha image.
Not only in sculpture, but the ideal
in painting as well was seen on
the walls of caves in Sigiriga, Cey-
lon and at Ajanta. In the still re-
maining patches of fresco the bril-
liance of color and dynamic line
of the figure is as exciting as their
counterparts in sculpture.
Hindu Flourishing ...
WHILE the Buddhist art was
flourishing, the Hindu art in
the seventh century A.D. was de-
picting the eternal concepts of the
"beginning." At Udayagiri the
great god Vishnu, the preserver of
the world, was shown resting on
Ananta, the serpent of eternity,
who was lying in the cosmic ocean.
At every cycle of the universe,
Vishnu is awakened and a golden
lotus issues from his navel, and
from it is born Brahma who cre-
ates the universe of him and for
him. So in literal picture the
Indian artist portrays the pulsat-
ing universe of the scientist.
In addition to the geotechtonic
concept-the birth of the earth-
the legends of the Hindu gods were
portrayed over and over in the
temples, Vishnu and Shiva were
two of the most popular, Vishnu
with his many "avatars" or "ap-
pearances" is pictured in forms
ranging from the great boar,

Bhumi-devi, rescuing the earth
from the abyss to the micheviousi
See INDIAN, Page 89

member of the Hindu trinity, is s
serpent of eternity, in this depic
dated around 440 A.D. Brahma, til
is seen issuing from Vishnu's nav

traditional carving of Buddha
is an example of the culmina-
tion of Buddhist sculpture. Por-
trayed as an ideal, Buddha is
recognized by the top knot, and
long ears symbolizing, shedding
of worldly goods.

ASOKA PILLAR - This lion
capitol from Sarnath was built
by the great Buddhist emper-
or Asoka, who inscribed edicts
for his people on the pillars. The
carving depicts the vigor of the
Assyro-Persian tradition. The
pillar base no longer exists.


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JATAKA TALE-A relief from
The jataka tales are stories of I
the guise of animals, this one r
Tale, the turtle, the deer, and the
is among the oldest Buddhist ar

After that last final

and before the long trek home,
smorgasbord or fried chicken


and apple pie at'

A J /

T'OW~R t4e oP
Mo ~O1EL L O14A//'OM"0


sculpture shows the influence of
cept of the Buddha. A scene fron
sented as a Greek sage in Iniia
cloak, the folds of which mimic 1

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