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Commentary on Taranatha's Chapter on Buddhist Art

Title:Commentary on Taranatha's Chapter on Buddhist Art
Author:Khandalavala, Karl
Enumeration:Vol. 4 Issue no. 1, p. 61-63
Abstract:Taranatha, a Tibetan monk, wrote a history of Buddhism in 1608. His chapter on Buddhist art is reproduced opposite the title page of this issue. Each of the nine phases in Taranatha's history are commented upon: the earliest products of Buddhist art ascribed to supernatural agencies; the pre-Ashokan period when master artists were regarded as Gods in human form; Mauryan art with Yakshas as Ashoka's artisans; the time of the Buddhist ecclesiastic Nagarjuna; the interregnum between Vasudeva (Kushana) and the rise of the Guptas; the formative stages of Gupta art; King Buddhapaksha or Buddhagupta; the reign of King Sila(ditya) or Harsha; and the Pala school of Bengal and Bihar in the reign of Devapala. Standards of art criticism in India were rather elementary in the 17th century. Taranatha's statement, that where orthodox Hinduism prevailed unskilful artists came to the forefront, is described as a demonstrable falsehood.

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