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The Origin of the Buddha Image and Elements of Buddhist Iconography (New)
by Coomaraswamy, Ananda
Publisher: Fons Vitae
Book ID: 9781887752800, 1887752803
Usually available in 1-2 weeks
Ananda K. Coomaraswamy’s The Origin of the Buddha Image is a detailed study and analysis of the controversial problem. In the present monograph, with his usual acumen and deep understanding of the subject, Coomaraswamy has laid bare the facts which clearly show that the Buddha image was a product of the Indian mind. In this detailed excurses, he has discussed the problem not only with a view to prove that the Buddha image originated out of the pre-existing Indian forms, but has also taken pains to disprove the theories of those scholars with whom "Indo-Greek art has become a veritable obsession."
Coomaraswamy has divided the work into the following heads: (1) What is the Buddha image?, (2) The early representation of deities by means of symbols, (3) The necessity for a Buddha image, (4) Elements of the later anthropomorphic iconography already present in early Indian art, (5) Style and content: differentiation of Indian and Hellenistic types, and (6) Dating of Gandhara and Mathura Buddhas.
According to Coomaraswamy, every element essential to the iconography of Buddha and Bodhisattva figures appears in early Indian art before the Buddha figure of Gandhara or Mathura is known. For this, he says we have only to look at a sequence of examples beginning with the Parkham image and culminating in the Mathura types of the Gupta period to realize that there is no room at any point in the intercalation of any model based on the Hellenistic tradition: he has even suggested that the Gandhara iconography itself is derived from the pre-existing Indian forms, either through Mathura or otherwise.
Introduced by Coomaraswamy's “The Nature of Buddhist Art” (1938), “The Origin of the Buddha Image” (1927) is crowned by a supremely important metaphysical and spiritually transformative text, “Elements of Buddhist Iconography” (1935). Although this essay is about sacred art, it actually is sacred art itself in that it is able to transport the reader to the very threshold of an awakening. This is achieved through the etymological and artistic explication of the archetypal nature and profoundest meaning intended by the Cosmic Tree of Life (symbolizing the Buddha) and the Lotus Throne which are not actually situated in “art” but may be beheld within the human heart and found in each one of us. We are truly fortunate to be able to provide a facsimile reproduction of the author's personal copies of these formative works with his own annotations and corrections.
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