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Indian Contribution to the Development of Far Eastern Buddhist Iconography

Prof. Ashok Kumar Bhattacharyya (Author)
Synopsis The vast store-house of iconic concepts that originated with Mahayana Buddhism in India was transmitted through various channels to East: to China, sparingly to Korea, and often through both, on the Japan. On way from India, the Central Asian Caravan settlements, Buddhist in contents, also lent their hand in this cultural journey through painted and sculptured grottos to enrich this transmitted art carrying with them their own traits. Of these, the Indo-Bactrian forms of dress and countenance occupy a conspicuous place under suitable environs, while in the southern kingdoms of China, Indian forms underwent considerable changes through Tibetan Tantricism, so much so that the symbolic interpretations of the iconic forms appear almost a new phenomenon in Indo-Chinese iconography nearer the border. A study, therefore, of this developing iconography is as interesting as it is complicated and difficult. Leaving out the primal or even the continued Hinayana form of Buddha-worship, it is perhaps more absorbing and fascinating to trace the transforming iconography that grew with Mahayana as it included a good number of Brahmanic gods and goddesses and even a few of local origin. The present work spread over eight Chapters, however, deals with major Mahayana deities including some of the female concepts that were given forms in East Asia undr Saktism in India and Tibet. These include individual deities as described in the Sadhanas, Group deities known as Dharmapala i.e., 'Protectors of the Buddhist Law', and a few interesting Japanese godheads with elements of beauty and function, or as objects of prayer for prosperity, personal or social, with borrowed traits from the myths and legends in which they had originated. The text with a Glossary of terms to help, aided by relevant illustrations, would stand out, it is hoped, as a valuable contribution in the sphere broadly encompassed, and as a lucid exposition of the subject.
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About the author

Prof. Ashok Kumar Bhattacharyya

Professor A.K. Bhattacharyya, M.A. in Sanskrit and Islamic History and Culture, First Class in both, Kavyatirtha and Puranatirtha, was awarded PRS of the Calcutta University on his dissertation on a Comparative Study of Brahmanic, Buddhist and Jaina Iconography in 1949. Selected by UPSC, he served the National Museum, New Delhi, successively as Deputy Keeper and Keeper of the Art Department thereof from 1954 to 1964. Having worked on deputation for a year with the Archaeological Survey of India as the Officer-in-Charge of the Museums Branch, during 1964-65, he was selected as Director, Indian Museum, Calcutta, which he served from 1965 to 1975. On retirement he was awarded a Research Grant by the Govt. of West Germany during 1975-76. In 1976 he was awarded a Japan Foundation Fellow-ship to work for a year on Japanese Buddhist Iconography. In 1980 he was appointed a Visiting Professor at the National University at the Republic of China and in 1981 at the University of Chinese Culture. Concurrently he was awarded a Fellowship by the Pacific Cultural Foundation in that country for researches in Chinese Buddhist Iconography. Professor Bhattacharyya is the author of more than twenty books of which his magnum opus: A Corpus of Dedicatory Inscriptions from Temples of West Bengal earned for him in Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship in 1984. His other works include: A Pageant of Indian Culture, in 2 volumes; Cultural, Historical and Political Aspects of Perso-Arabic Epigraphy of India; Indian Museum – Indian, Burmese, Javanese Art; Art of India (Co-author), Chamba Rumal; A Short History of Malaysia; Art of Korea in Cultural Heritage of India; Indian Coins in Musee Guimet, Paris, Stone Sculptures of Japan; Thai Buddhist Iconography, and 15 other books.

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Bibliographic information

Title Indian Contribution to the Development of Far Eastern Buddhist Iconography
Format Hardcover
Date published: 01.01.2002
Edition 1st. ed.
Language: English
isbn 8170742110
length 252p., 68 Plates; Maps; 2 Charts; Glossary; Bibliography; Index; 28cm.