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Art History Today
Midlands, United Kingdom
Professional Art Historian, Phd in Poussin,
Interests: music, art history, films, (classical through to rock), literature (mainly modern crime mystery).
Recent Activity
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1) Sculpture from the Khajuraho Group of Monuments, AD. 950-1050, Chhatarpur, Madhya Pradesh, India. 2) Map of India. 3) Khajuraho Group of Monuments. 4) Workshop of the Boucicault Master, Indian Religious Scene, 'Le Livre Des Merveilles', C.1410-12. 5) Map of Indus Valley Civilisations. 6) Figurine of a Young Woman, perhaps a dancing girl, from Mohenjo-daro, Harrapan culture, c. 2300-1750 BC. copper, ht 14 cms (5 ½ inches), National Museum, New Delhi. 7) Bust of a priest- king, or deity from Mohenjo- daro, late Harrapan culture, c. 2000- 1750 BC., Steatite, ht 17.5 cms (6 7/8 inches), National Museum of Pakistan,... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Art History Today
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End of an Era: Islamic Art in Medieval India. The arrival of Islam started in A.D. 712 when Arab traders conquered Sind in Pakistan; but this was consolidated by invasions in the tenth century A.D. effectively putting an end to the first chapter of Indian history.[1] It was the wealth of the temple of India glorifying Hindu and Buddhist civilisation that drew the envious eyes of the Turks and Afghans. This was bad for the Hindu and Buddhist religions as their temples and stupas were swept away by the Muslims and replaced by mosques such as the first mosque at... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Art History Today
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Painting in the Caves of Ajanta It is difficult to date the earliest painting in India because there is still disagreement about the date of India’s origins. It seems likely that the very first painting was executed on the sub-continent by proto-Australoid or Veddoid groups who may have some connection with the Australian Bushmen.[1] There exists hundreds of very primitive cave or rock paintings in Central India where natural pigments were applied to sandstone. In tracing painting in India, it is necessary to take a long leap from the Neolithic period to the Gupta (A.D. 320-467) era where we find... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Art History Today
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Further Notes on the Influence of Classical Art in India. When pondering the possible influence of Roman and Greek art – usually subsumed under the term “classical”- via the Silk Roads on Northern India after the time of Alexander the Great, John Boardman suggested that there was evidence for opening up a case of an “Indo-Roman” style rather than an “Indo-Greek” one as present in northern India, though Boardman nevertheless noted that “Roman” would not exclude Greek as the former largely developed out of the latter.[1] For example, in their coinage the Kushan kings “did take note of Roman coin... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Art History Today
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Buddhist Art in India. The homeland of Buddhism was India where it flourished during the first thousand years of its existence until by the sixth and seventh centuries it was absorbed by a vibrant Hinduism. After its genesis, Buddhism spread to neighbouring regions such as Nepal, Tibet, and other Himalayan expanses, as well as Burma and Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) where the Pali canon was created.[1] The first phase of Buddhism lasted for nearly five hundred years until the end of the first millennium B.C. and the rise of the Kushan dynasty. As for the first Buddhist art, it did... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Art History Today
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Who was the Buddha? Gautama Buddha (c, 563- 480 B.C.), also known as Siddhārtha Gautama, or Shakyamuni was an ascetic sage whose teachings formed the foundation of Buddhism. Though scholars are not in agreement on the facts of the Buddha’s life, it is believed that the Buddha lived and taught mostly in the eastern part of ancient India sometime between the fourth and sixth centuries. Though there are many biographical sources, it is thought that the Buddha was born in present day Nepal.[1] Siddhārtha’s mother may have died just after his birth leaving the child to be brought up by... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Art History Today
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The Dance of Shiva: Representations of the Hindu Trinity in Indian Art. The origin of Shiva, sometimes Siva, in Indian art may be present in the Pashupati Seal from the Indus period which features a tricephalic (three headed) god surrounded by animals; the figure is seated in a yogic posture which will become generalised throughout Indian art. Of great religious and mythological importance, Shiva is the destroyer within the Trimurti or the Hindu “trinity” that also includes Brahma and Vishnu. These three gods would replace the Vedic gods, i.e. the deities of the Indo-Aryans who invoked the gods of nature,... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Art History Today
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A Feminine Ideal in Indian Art: the Yakshi. Continuing that last point about the Indian female figure whose most prevalent expression in art is that of the yakshis, a female tree spirit found in Hindu, Buddhist and Jain mythology. One of the best examples of a free-standing statue of a yakshi comes from either the Mauryan or later periods, the latter because she resembles the yakshis on the Great Stupa at Sanchi (above), one of three sites (the others are Bhahut and Mathura) that have yielded up yakshi figures which are very similar in physical attributes and iconography, though they... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Art History Today
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The Phases of Hindu Art. The first phase of Hinduism is marked by Bhakti (worship) in the first century A.D. which resulted in a bewildering plethora of deities- see below- and the creation of Hindu temples within which they were worshipped. Hindu temples were ornamented with narrative reliefs, animals, floral, foliate and geometric designs (above).[1] Buddhist art takes form during the Mauryan and successive periods; but the Gupta period (A.D. 320-467) brings matured Buddhist art and the embryonic Hindu temple together which drew on Buddhist architecture and ideas. Good examples abound such as the sixth-century temple Dasavatura temple at Deogarth... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Art History Today
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Early Hindu Civilisation. The word “Hindu” refers to the peoples of “the land beyond the Indus River,” its characterisations found in an area running from the Punjab to Bombay. [1] Hindu is the name these inhabitants were given by invading Muslims who entered India in the eighth century from the north-west, but the early “Indus Civilisation” to use Campbell’s term, lasted from c. 2500- 1500 B.C.[2] Hindus followed a number of different god cults: Rama, Krishna, Shiva, Vishnu being the main ones.[3] But Hinduism is not confined to India: it is also found in countries to which Hindus have migrated... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Art History Today
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The Diversity of Indian Art.[1] On this course we have looked at examples of Buddhist art in China and Japan, but this week we trace the art back to its fountainhead- India. However, India did not exclusively produce painting and sculpture with Buddhist content; it was also responsible for art representing the deities, beliefs and culture of the Hindu religion like the sensuous yakshis, or female figures that adorn temples; completely unique divinities like Shiva, one of the Hindu “trinity” of gods; and the Islamic art of the Turko-Afghan Sultanate of Delhi.[2] And in addition to these there are the... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Art History Today
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Indian Art and the West. During the Kushan era (2nd cent BC to 3rd AD), trade between the Roman Empire and Asia was at its height. Under King Kanishka, the Kushan dynasty extended from Gandhara and Kashmir south as far as Sanchi and east to Benares, Peshawar, with the Kanishka’s capital not far from the Khyber Pass.[1] India would attract its fair share of travellers from the west. During the middle-ages a number of itinerants journeyed to India, or passed through Indian territory to other countries like China and Tibet. Men like Sir John Mandeville, Odoric of Pordenone, and Marco... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Art History Today
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1 ) Map of Japan. 2) Map of the Silk Roads. 3) Rising Sun Flag of Japan, originated Edo period, (160... Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2017 at Art History Today
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A Note on Japanese Architecture.[1] As one might expect, the evolution of Japanese architecture follows a similar course to that of its Chinese counterpart. Like China the earliest buildings were religious and date from after the introduction of Buddhism in China. And as in China, wood was used to construct Japanese buildings; and the column was the main type of support. Examples of wooden Shinto architecture such as the Torii or two-shaped gateway can be seen on objects like medicine boxes which may have been perches for the sacred cock that crows in the morn, and which features extensively in... Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2017 at Art History Today
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The Flight of the Dragon: Art and Aesthetics in Japan. According to Lawrence Binyon in a meditation on Chinese and Japanese art and aesthetics, the dragon was the symbol of the infinite. It could be linked with water that Chinese sages like Lao-tsu said is “the weakest and softest of things, yet overcomes the strongest and hardest.”[1] One of the earliest Japanese landscape pictures was of the Waterfalls of Nachi by the ninth-century master Kanaoka considered by some to be Japan’s greatest painter.[2] Unlike European landscape painting, landscape and the soul of the artist were unselfconsciously fused together reflecting the... Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2017 at Art History Today
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Zen & the Samurai in the Arts of Japan. Zen has been called the “Buddhism of the Samurai,” “an essentially non-theological view” taken of “the problem of illuminated life.”[1] Zen developed because contact with China was resumed which meant more Japanese Buddhist masters studied there and brought back their teachings in the Kamakara period. Known in China as Chan, Zen was an essentially ascetic and pragmatic art which though to a westerner might smack of metaphysics or mysticism with its enigmatic sayings and koans (riddles) yet nonetheless was concerned with providing a way to live contentedly and successfully in the... Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2017 at Art History Today
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Kamakura Art (1185-1333). In 1180 war broke out between the Taira and the Minamoto, the two most powerful families in Japan. After five years the Minamoto proved victorious and set up a seat of government at the seaside village of Kamakura. During the Kamakura period which outside Japan coincided with the Islamic invasion of India, the massing of the Mongolian Golden Hoard in Russia, and the rise of the Dominicans in Europe, Buddhism achieved its majority. Paintings of the Buddha Amida (according to Campbell derived from Indian and possibly Iranian sources) were produced in the thirteenth century while the tradition... Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2017 at Art History Today
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Narrative Secular Art of the Heian Period (A.D. 794-1185) The late Nara dynasty coincided with the Tang Dynasty in China (A.D. 618-907). With the latter’s disintegration, and with travel to China becoming fraught with perils, the Japanese court ceased diplomatic missions all together; this isolation led to an outpouring of native Japanese art.[1] The late Heian Dynasty’s opposite number in China was the Northern Song which also became increasingly introspective. Song China (A.D. 960-1279) produced their own kind of landscape art, while Heian (the name of the second capital, (now Kyoto) created Yamato-e which is considered the classical Japanese style.... Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2017 at Art History Today
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Buddhism in the Asuka & Nara Periods. The Asuka period (A.D. 538-710) is especially renowned for the... Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2017 at Art History Today
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Spread of Buddhism from China to Japan. As the anthropologist Joseph Campbell pointed out, the arrival of Buddhism in Japan corresponded with the rise of the Christianisation of Germanic Europe.[1] Like Christian Europe, and unlike India and China, Japan was a young country untroubled by a turbulent past; and unlike the cosmic pessimism detected in Mesopotamia, Egypt, India, and China, Japan was still optimistic about its future. So when the doctrine of Buddhism entered Japan, rather than interpreting the Buddha’s first noble truth “All life is sorrowful,” the Japanese chose to see something different.[2] The “formal advent of Buddhism” is... Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2017 at Art History Today
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A Note on Shintoism In order to understand the art of Japan, it is helpful to say something about the religions of the country since most of the art developed in response to the introduction of them. Buddhism will be dealt with later; but in the early phase of Japan’s history the other main religion was Shintoism (shin tao or “way of the Gods”), Japan’s native religion so named in the 8th century after Buddhism was introduced. Shintoism was a “set of prehistoric agricultural ceremonies” that had no philosophical foundation or moralistic body of writings, but involved ceremonies performed by... Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2017 at Art History Today
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Prehistoric Japan. No less than 100, 000 prehistoric sites have been found on Japan; this possibly reflects its geographical position as a “terminus point” for various migrations of other peoples from Europe, Central Asia, the Altaic Mountain Range (west of Turkistan), and Siberia.[1] Added to this are the sea-faring people from Southern China, S.E. Asia and the Polynesian Islands. The first prehistoric Japanese culture was the Jōmon which lasted from 11,000- 300 B.C. The Jōmon were essentially a hunting/fishing society who took their name from the surface decoration of their pottery: Jōmon means cord-impressed. By the time of the late... Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2017 at Art History Today
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Japan on the Silk Roads. Japan, or Dai Nippon, or Nihon, a corruption of the Chinese Jih-pên “the place where the sun comes from” is thought to refer to Japan’s geographical position relative to China.[1] The rising sun symbol was even woven into the mythological tapestry with the legend of the sun goddess Amaterasu (above). This goddess grew sad at the triumph of the storm god, and retreated into a cave meaning darkness descended on the world; light was only restored when Amaterasu was lured from her dark prison by the entreaties of other kami, or deities.[2] As we shall... Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2017 at Art History Today
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I’m not even going to go there, but you can via a post on Hyperallergic. Continue reading
Posted Jun 10, 2017 at Art History Today
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1) Unidentified artist, Genghis Khan, 14th century Yuan era, 47 x 59.4 cm, paint and ink on silk, Na... Continue reading
Posted Jun 9, 2017 at Art History Today