Animals in Stone: Indian Mammals Sculptured Through Time (Handbook of Oriental Studies)

Animals in Stone: Indian Mammals Sculptured Through Time (Handbook of Oriental Studies)

Language: English

Pages: 461

ISBN: 9004168192

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The art history of South Asia covers a time span of roughly four and a half thousand years. During this period, a vast number of animal stone sculptures has been produced, ranging from the pre-historic period till today and covering a great variety of motifs and imagery in different regions and religious traditions. Even so, the number of studies devoted to these animal sculptures has remained extremely limited. The present book aims at filling this knowledge gap. With this richly illustrated book, the first of its kind, Van der Geer offers a comparative study of the ways in which various animals have been depicted and a lucid analysis of the sculptors treatment of their models: living animals. The art history of sculptured animals is contextualized with a description of the use of animals as can be read from ancient texts, archaeological evidence and contemporaneous culture. In doing so, parallels as well as differences in style or iconography are highlighted, elucidating the variety of animal depictions across regions, religious contexts and through time. The corpus of discussed material ranges from Indus seals, stupa panels and railings, monumental temples from North and South India, non-religious palace and fort architecture to loose sculptures in museum collections."

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New York 184. The Buddhist fertility goddess Vasudhara. Greater Gandhara, 1st–4th century. Central Museum, 94–343, Lahore. Photograph: IM List 1900, 1868–1897, courtesy Kern Institute, Leiden, the Netherlands 185. Stele of Revanta at hunt from Bihar, 8th–12th century. Indian Museum, Calcutta. Photograph: courtesy Kyle Brannic 186. Stele of Revanta at hunt from Sonapur, Orissa, c. 10th century. Photograph: S. Saraswati, 1935, courtesy Kern Institute, Leiden, the Netherlands 187. Coping stone with

the monument. In the case of loose sculptures, their place of origin is given. In two cases, an additional geographical location is given because they have a status on their own and are widely known as such. The first case is that of the Indus Valley. From here an important, large-scaled Bronze Age culture is known, generally referred to as the Harappa Period (see above). The flourishing period of this Indus Valley culture is not sharply defined and started roughly at the beginning of the third

(ninth to twelfth century; fig. 58), one from Bodhgaya, Bihar (sixth to eighth century, sandstone),9 another one from Bihar (tenth century; fig. 294), and one from Rajasthan,10 where the tail is as long as the body, excluding the short-tailed bandicoot. The main difference between the four pedestals is found in the orientation and position of the rats. Those on the Gangarampur and the Rajasthan steles look to the left, while those on the Bihar steles look to the right; those on the Bengal and

function as mount of Ganesha seems to have been taken literally here. The tail is either short or broken-off, the mouth is small, and the posture, especially that of the front limbs, is more bovid-like than rodent-like. Seen the overall roundish appearance, a bandicoot seems the most likely candidate. Interestingly, this Sinhalese bandicoot sculpture has a simile of a comparable date in the form of Ganesha’s rat in a niche of the Brihadishvara temple at Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu (c. 1010; fig. 61).

e.g. R. Nowak in Walker’s Mammals of the World (1999). The exact relation between the gaur and the gayal is, however, not clear. Interbreeding occurs as well as between gayal or gaur bulls and zebu cows, but there is no documentary evidence for the fertility of their offsprings. 4 Mbh. 3.251.12 (Aranyakaparvan). 5 J. Simmoons, A ceremonial ox of India. The mithan in nature, culture, and history (Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 1968). The following information about the use of the gayal

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