In last week’s lecture by Osmund Bopearachchi we saw how there was a convergence of Hellenism and Buddhism in the art works that emerged from Gandhāra; and in this week’s lecture he explains how themes and motives in Gandhāran art influenced Central Asian and Chinese Buddhist art in the years that followed.
With very well chosen examples Bopearachchi shows how the artistic elements that Gandhāra had adopted not only spread north and eastward, but also underwent changes as they encountered new cultures. The lecture is again in two halves, and in the first we see how the sun god found a place in Buddhist art.
The second half of the lecture looks at one of the most striking features of Dunhuang art, the flying streamers around Bodhisattvas and Apsaras, were originally signs of kingship, decorating the diadem’s of the Assyrian and Greek, or Greco-Bactrian kings before being adopted and expanded on when passed to the new cultures Buddhism was reaching.
It is a fascinating study, and one of the things I like about the work is how it helps us see details that we might otherwise feel have little or no significance if it weren’t pointed out, and we can see that many works of art carry greater meaning than we first invested them with.
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