Fashioning the divine: South Asian sculpture at the Ackland Art Museum

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9780974365626: Fashioning the divine: South Asian sculpture at the Ackland Art Museum

INTRODUCTION The South Asian sculpture collection at the Ackland Art Museum offers glimpses into the richness and variety of sculptural traditions that flourished in the Indian subcontinent. The works range from the early centuries of the Common Era to the efflorescence of highly elaborate Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain temple complexes in the medieval period. Geographically, the objects span a region the size of Europe, including fragments from Buddhist stupas and temples, from the mountainous northwestern region of ancient Gandhara (primarily modern Pakistan and Afghanistan) and monumental granite figures that one adorned Hindu temples along the lush, green Kaveri delta in central Tamil Nadu at the southernmost periphery of India. As fragments from larger architectural environments, they signal a concern shared by all three of these religious traditions: to provide a suitable space for human interaction with the divine. They also represent concerted efforts shared among thinkers and sculptors to personify the divine in concrete terms. Almost all of the pieces are depictions of the divine, embodying particular localized conceptualizations of the perfect body as it varied from region to region over time. They signal the culturally specific ways in which each region's makers and devotional communities understood, imagined, and depicted celestial beings at particular historical junctures. And they simultaneously testify to creative experiments, undertaken by mostly unknown and unnamed individuals, to embody their apprehensions of what is outside the average human ex... The accompanying catalogue is made possible, in part, by an award from Palm Beach/America's International Fine Art & Antique Fair's Museum Publication Grant Program, the J. Charles Morrow III Ackland Endowment Fund, and the William Hayes Ackland Trust. The Fashioning the Divine symposium is sponsored in part by the Art Department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill through the

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