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Abaneri  

Walter Smith

[anc. Abhānagari]

Temple site in north-eastern Rajasthan, India. It contains the fragmentary remains of two major monuments of the 8th century ad. The Chand Baori, a stepped ritual bathing tank c. 19 m deep, was probably built by Raja Chandra, from whom its name derives; an enclosing verandah dates to the 17th century. Although the Harshatmata Temple also dates to the 8th century, or early 9th, according to some scholars, a modern temple has been built over the original foundations, which include a broad platform and the lower walls of the original monument. A remarkable sequence of sculptures, showing primarily secular scenes, survives. These include kings with courtiers, musicians and couples (see Indian subcontinent, fig.). The figural scenes are framed by pilasters carved with floral motifs and capped by elaborate interlaced pediments employing the gavākṣa (Skt: ‘cow’s-eye’) motif.

The sculpture of Abaneri extensively illustrates a phase of sculptural development midway between the Gupta style of the Mathura region and the abstracted linearized style adopted in northern India from the 10th century. Its style, often referred to as naturalistic, renders the figure with an energetic elasticity conveying both potential and actual movement. The profuse details, including facial expressions and gestures, are carved with great delicacy, and the high relief utilizes deep undercutting. Several of the ancient sculptures have been embedded into the walls of the modern temple, and numerous fragments—possibly from other temples no longer extant—lie about the site. Other pieces, including images of deities such as Ganesha, Durga and Gaja-Lakshmi and scenes from the life of Krishna, have been removed to the Archaeological Museum in Amer....

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Article

Sarah Urist Green

(b Kabul, June 5, 1973).

Afghan video and performance artist and photographer, active also in the USA. After fleeing Soviet-occupied Kabul with her family in the late 1980s, Abdul lived as a refugee in Germany and India before moving to Southern California. She received a BA in Political Science and Philosophy at California State University, Fullerton, and an MFA at the University of California, Irvine, in 2000. Abdul first returned to a post-Taliban Afghanistan in 2001, where she encountered a place and people transformed by decades of violence and unrest. Since that time, Abdul has made work in Kabul and Los Angeles, staging herself in performances and creating performance-based video works and photography that explore ideas of home and the interconnection between architecture and identity.

Beginning in the late 1990s, Abdul made emotionally intense performance art informed by that of Yugoslavian artist Marina Abramović and Cuban-born American artist Ana Mendieta. At the time unable to travel to Afghanistan, Abdul created and documented performances in Los Angeles that probed her position as Afghan, female, Muslim, a refugee and a transnational artist. In ...

Article

Jonathan M. Bloom

revised by Sheila S. Blair

(b Kishorganj, East Pakistan [now Bangladesh], Nov 18, 1914; d Dhaka, May 28, 1976).

Bangladeshi painter and printmaker. He studied painting at the Government School of Art in Calcutta from 1933 to 1938, and then taught there until 1947. His work first attracted public attention in 1943 when he produced a powerful series of drawings of the Bengal famine. After the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 he worked as chief designer in the Pakistan government’s Information and Publications Division, and also became principal of the Institute of Fine Arts in Dhaka (later known as the Bangladesh College of Arts and Crafts), which he helped to found in 1948 and where he remained until 1967. From 1951 to 1952 he visited Europe and, in addition to exhibiting his work at several locations, worked at the Slade School of Art in London, and represented Pakistan at the UNESCO art conference in Venice in 1952. An exhibition of his work in Lahore in 1953 became the starting-point for a series of ...

Article

‛Abid  

Jeffrey A. Hughes

[‛Ābid]

(fl c. 1615–58).

Indian miniature painter, son of Aqa Riza and brother of Abu’l-Hasan. Both his father and his brother worked for the Mughal emperor Jahangir (reg 1605–27). Although ‛Abid probably began working in the royal atelier c. 1615, all of his known signed works are datable to the reign of Shah Jahan (reg 1628–58). His style varied somewhat from that of his celebrated older brother, but ‛Abid’s work also stayed within the strict formalism of the Persian-derived courtly concerns for symmetry, technical perfection and minute detail. Within these constraints, ‛Abid’s portraits of court figures are injected with an animation that creates characterization of individual personalities and intensifies the narrative. ‛Abid was an accomplished colourist, whose vivid use of colour seems to contrast with the realism of his subjects, primarily battle and court scenes. His known paintings are relatively few; most are from the Padshāhnāma of c. 1636–58 (Windsor Castle, Royal Lib., MS. HB.149, fols 94...

Article

J. P. Losty

(b 1588; fl 1600–30).

Indian painter.

In 1618 the Mughal emperor Jahangir (reg 1605–27) wrote in his memoirs that Abu’l-Hasan’s ‘work was perfect…At the present time he has no rival or equal… Truly he has become Nadir al-Zaman (“Wonder of the age”)’. Some of this artist’s paintings are among the greatest in Mughal art. He was born in Jahangir’s household in 1588, the son of the erstwhile Safavid artist Aqa Riza. Abu’l-Hasan’s earliest known work, a drawing based on Albrecht Dürer’s St John and executed when he was only 12 (Oxford, Ashmolean), already shows in its naturalism the trend of his mature work. A single painting in a manuscript of the fable-book Anvār-i Suhaylī (‘Lights of Canopus’), probably done in 1604 (London, BL, Add. MS. 18579), develops the naturalism of his portraiture but still contains a Safavid landscape based on his father’s work; his sense of respect for the latter is indicated by his signing himself here ‘the dust of Riza’s threshold’. He maintained throughout his career the meticulous finish of the Safavid style (...

Article

R. Nath, Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

[‛Ādil Shāhī]

Dynasty that ruled portions of southern India from 1489 to 1686. Its founder, Yusuf ‛Adil Shah (reg 1489–1509), had come to India from Persia and was appointed governor of Bijapur under the Bahmani family rulers. He declared his independence when that dynasty declined. Yusuf had a prolonged conflict with the Portuguese, who were able to secure Goa in 1510. The ‛Adil Shahis and their rival states in the Deccan formed a series of alliances and counter-alliances in the struggle for hegemony. For example, in 1543 a confederacy of Ahmadnagar, Golconda and Vijayanagara attacked the ‛Adil Shahi capital Bijapur, but Ibrahim ‛Adil Shah (reg 1534–57) maintained control. His successor ‛Ali ‛Adil Shah (reg 1557–79) joined an alliance that destroyed Vijayanagara in 1565. ‛Ali ‛Adil Shah was an enlightened prince who built a large number of public works, including the Jami‛ Mosque at Bijapur. The dynasty reached its zenith under ...

Article

D. W. MacDowall, W. Ball, Gregory L. Possehl, Maurizio Taddei, C. Fabrègues, E. Errington, N. Hatch Dupree, Sheila S. Blair, Jonathan M. Bloom and F. Tissot

Country of some 647,500 sq. km in the middle of the steppe and desert zone of Eurasia. It is bounded on the north by the Amu (Oxus) River and the republics of Central Asia, on the west by Iran and on the south and east by the Indian subcontinent. In the Pamir Mountains to the north-east, a narrow tongue of land known as the Wakhan corridor links the country with China (see fig.). Located at the crossroads of major trade and migration routes between the Mediterranean, Central Asia, India and China, the region has been subjected to diverse cultural influences throughout its history.

The physical geography of Afghanistan is very varied and includes formidable mountain ranges, fertile valleys and barren deserts. The dominant mountainous core is the Hindu Kush, an extension of the Karakoram and Pamir mountains that stretches south-west for some 965 km and has peaks rising to some 5180 m in height. To the north, between the Hindu Kush and the Amu River lie the semi-desert plains of Turkestan. South of the Hindu Kush is a transitional zone of plateaux with broad mountain valleys. To the west and south-west the mountains gradually descend to the stony and sandy deserts of the Iranian plateau. North of Kabul the Kuh-e-Baba range (‘Grandfather Mountains’) of the Hindu Kush is the watershed for four great Afghan rivers: the Kabul River flowing east to the Indus, the Kunduz flowing north into the Amu River, the Hari Rud flowing west to Herat and the Helmand, which flows southwards into the marshy lake of Hamun Helmand in Sistan. There are several passes through the mountainous core of the country linking north to south and east to west, and traffic is also channelled along the rivers or round the mountain mass. The low-lying plains and deserts between Herat and Kandahar provide an easy route for traders and invaders travelling eastwards into the Indus Valley....

Article

Marcella Nesom-Sirhandi

(b Faisalabad, 1922).

Pakistani painter. She introduced non-traditional pictorial imagery in Pakistan and initiated a new era in painting. She completed a degree in political science at Kinnaird College, Lahore. Her introverted disposition and concentrated study of philosophy formed the background against which her abstract ‘idea’ paintings emerged. At the Lahore School of Fine Art (1945), Agha began a study of Western art. In addition to copying Old Masters, she came into contact with contemporary Indian painting and folk art.

Mario Perlingieri, an Italian painter who had studied with Picasso, introduced Agha to abstraction in 1946. Unlike the majority of Pakistani artists in the 1950s and 1960s, who emulated Cubism (see Cubism, §I), Agha evolved a personal style synthesizing East and West. Four years in London and Paris (1950–53) brought her face to face with modern European art. Agha’s predilection for discordant shapes, tension, and mysterious and irrational juxtapositions link her art to that of Marc Chagall and Edvard Munch. An intensely private and cerebral individual, she was awarded the President’s Medal for Pride of Performance in ...

Article

Agra  

R. Nath

City and administrative seat of the district of the same name, in Uttar Pradesh, India. Situated on the Yamuna River in the fertile north Indian heartland, it is 200 km south of Delhi and 55 km south of the ancient city of Mathura. A centre of Mughal culture and government in the 16th and 17th centuries, Agra has numerous monuments of that period, including the famed Taj Mahal (see §II, 1).

Agra’s antiquity is indicated both by a living literary and religious tradition and by occasional archaeological discoveries of ancient pottery, bricks, pillars and sculpture in and around the city. Pilgrimage centres upstream on the Yamuna are associated with the great epic the Mahābhārata, and nearby Mathura is one of the ancient sites identified with the worship of Vasudeva Krishna. The name Agra may derive from the ancient Hindu sage Angira. The area was ruled by Rajput chiefs prior to the Muslim conquest (...

Article

Gregory L. Possehl

[Ahicchatra; Adhicchatrā]

Fortified site in Bareilly District, Uttar Pradesh, India. It flourished from c. 500 bc to ad 1100, and it was identified by Alexander Cunningham as the capital of North Panchala, an early kingdom mentioned in the Mahābhārata epic of the 1st millennium bc. The fortifications of the site measure 5.6 km in circuit, and the mounds within stand 23 m above the surrounding plain. Early visitors such as the 7th-century Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang noted a number of Buddhist stupas; although these can no longer be located, Cunningham’s excavations of 1862–5 produced a reliquary casket at one stupa site. Some years later A. Führer undertook the excavation of a temple without much result. However, the principal excavation of Ahichchhatra was carried out between 1940 and 1944 by the Archaeological Survey of India under the direction of Rao Bahadur K. N. Dikshit, assisted by Amalananda Ghosh. This yielded evidence of nine successive periods of occupation in the western sector of the city dating from ...

Article

R. N. Mehta and Jonathan M. Bloom

revised by Sheila S. Blair

[Ahmedabad]

City in western India, until 1970 the state capital of Gujarat.

Remains of bones and tools indicate occupation in the area around Ahmadabad during the second millennium bc. The earliest permanent settlement, called Ashaval after its founder Asha Bhil, was established on the eastern bank of the Sabarmati River in the 8th century ad and prospered in subsequent centuries. In 1391 Zafar Khan was appointed Governor of Gujarat by the Sultanate rulers in Delhi. In 1403 his rebellious son, Tatar Khan, proclaimed himself Sultan of Gujarat at Ashaval but died a few months later, possibly from poisoning. His father regained power and, assuming the title Muzaffar Shah I, proclaimed himself Sultan of Gujarat. On his death he was succeeded by his grandson, Ahmad Shah I (reg 1411–42), who built a capital at Ashaval, naming it Ahmadabad. Ahmad’s reign chiefly involved the expansion of his realm and the propagation of Islam....

Article

Ye. V. Zeymal’

[Aï Khanoum; Ay-Khanum]

Site of a Hellenistic town of the Greco-Bactrian kingdom, located at the confluence of the Kokcha and Pyandzh rivers (tributaries of the Amu River), northern Afghanistan. The site was excavated by the Délégation Archéologique Française en Afghanistan under Paul Bernard, from 1965 until the outbreak of the Afghan civil war in 1978. The town was founded on the eastern border of the oikoumene (inhabited territory) in the late 4th century bc or early 3rd, after the conquest of this region by Alexander the Great and, Bernard suggested, was first called Alexandria Oxiana. The name was changed to Eukratidea (after the GrecoBactrian king Eukratides), c. 170–c. 150 bc, when an extensive programme of construction was carried out. After the town was attacked and destroyed c. 140 bc, it was abandoned by its inhabitants. Later, during the Yueh-chih and Kushana periods (c. 1st century bc–3rd century ad), the ruined buildings were occupied by ‘post-Greek’ peoples who did not undertake any significant repair work. Little has yet been published concerning this later period at the site. Finds from the site were placed in Kabul Museum, although they appear to have been looted after the museum was bombed in ...

Article

Aihole  

Gary Michael Tartakov

[Aihoḷe, Aivalli; anc. Āryapura, Ayyāvoḷe]

Temple site and city in Karnataka, India, that flourished c. ad 525–1200.

An important centre of the early Chalukya dynasty (see Chalukya, §1), Aihole is situated, like the nearby sites of Pattadakal and Badami, near the Malaprabha River. Little is known of the ancient urban complex, but there are remains of a massive city wall with bastions and fragmentary crenellations. Inscriptions indicate that Aihole was a prominent commercial centre and the home of the ‘Ayyavole Five Hundred’, a corporation of traders and craftsmen. The remains of about 150 temples (in diverse styles) are preserved at the site. The oldest date to the mid-6th century and later examples to the time of the Rashtrakuta dynasty (c. 752–973) and Chalukyas of Kalyana (973–1189; see Chalukya, §2).

The temples at Aihole were first photographed and published in the mid-19th century by Col. Thomas Biggs, Bhau Daji and ...

Article

Ajanta  

Gary Michael Tartakov

[Ajaṇṭā]

Ancient Buddhist monastic and pilgrimage site (c. 200 bcad 500) located 100 km north of Aurangabad in the Sahyadri range of western India.

Ajanta is India’s richest surviving Buddhist complex. Far from any city, but close to the trade routes linking northern India with the western coast and the Deccan plateau, the monastery (saṅghārāma) and pilgrimage centre are composed of some 30 halls cut into the coarse, volcanic rock of a horseshoe-shaped gorge of the Waghora River (see fig.). The ‘caves’ were excavated along a 550 m-long stretch of a single path 10–30 m above the river bed. Five halls are in an early aniconic style, lacking images of the Buddha, and 24 are in the later image-filled style conventionally associated with Mahayana Buddhism of the Gupta age (c. 4th–5th centuries ad). The aniconic series, created between c. 200 bc and ...

Article

Ajmer  

Asok Kumar Das

[anc. Ajayameru]

City in Rajasthan, India, that flourished from c. 12th century. Ajmer was an important centre of Jainism in the 8th century, but it was not until c. 10th century that the area came into prominence under the Chahamanas (Chauhans) of Shakambhari. King Ajayapala is said to have founded the city in the 12th century, naming it Ajayameru after himself. He is also credited with building the now ruined hilltop fort called Taragarh. His son and successor Arnoraja (also called Anaka) constructed the massive embankment that created Ana Sagar Lake. The Chahamanas, especially Prithviraja (1178–92), constructed numerous temples and other buildings at Ajmer, as well as bathing ghats at Pushkar Lake some 11 km west. None of these are preserved in their original state.

Ajmer was sacked by Mu‛in al-Din Muhammad of Ghur in 1192 and again by Qutb al-Din Aybak in 1193, the latter incorporating it into the Delhi sultanate. The Sanskrit college complex of Visaladeva and numerous temples were destroyed, and the building materials were reused to raise an impressive mosque in ...

Article

Marcella Nesom-Sirhandi

(b Delhi, India, Feb 4, 1941; d Lahore, Pakistan, Jan 18, 1999).

Pakistani painter, sculptor and printmaker. Educated in Pakistan and abroad, he has consciously and successfully synthesized Eastern and Western aesthetic traditions. In 1963, a year after graduating from the National College of Arts, Lahore, he joined the faculty as a lecturer in art, later becoming a professor and head of the Department of Fine Arts. His studies abroad have included post-graduate work in London (1966–7, 1968–9) and the United States (1987–9).

Like many of his colleagues, Zahoor was influenced by his mentor, Shakir ‛Ali, principal of the National College of Art from 1961 to 1975. Both artists were motivated by art history, philosophy and aesthetics. Zahoor’s non-figurative paintings of the 1960s evolved into tangible—though not always realistic—images addressing the dualities of space and time, East and West. Most of his triptychs and single canvases were conceived within a grid that provides a stabilizing structure for their compositions. This grid refers to Zahoor’s admiration for the American artist ...

Article

Article

Milo Cleveland Beach and Jonathan M. Bloom

revised by Sheila S. Blair

[(Khwāja) ‛Abd al-Ṣamad; ‛Abd as-Ṣamad; Abdus Ṣamad]

(fl c. 1540–95).

Iranian miniature painter and calligrapher, active also in India. Trained in Safavid Iran, ‛Abd al-Samad migrated to India, where he became director of the Mughal painting workshops under the emperor Akbar (reg 1556–1605). In this key position, he influenced the development of Mughal painting in the second half of the 16th century more than any other artist (see Indian subcontinent §VI 4., (i), (b)).

No inscribed works by ‛Abd al-Samad are known from the period when he worked in Safavid Iran, though attributions have been proposed, such as a depiction of the assassination of Khusraw Parviz from the copy of the Shāhnāma made for Shah Tahmasp I (reg 1524–76). Already a mature painter, he paid homage in 1544 to Akbar’s father, the Mughal emperor Humayun (reg 1530–40; 1555–6), when the exiled ruler was given refuge at the court of the Safavid shah Tahmasp at Tabriz. In ...

Article

Alampur  

Gary Michael Tartakov

[anc. Alampūra, Hatampura]

Temple site in Karnataka, India. It flourished c. ad 650–1140 and is notable for its well-preserved 7th- and 8th-century temples. Alampur is located on the west bank of the Tungabhadra River, near its confluence with the Krishna, in the western part of the Andhra region of southern India. A number of copperplate grants show that Alampur was a centre of the early Chalukya dynasty known as the Chalukyas of Badami (reg mid-6th to mid-8th century; see Chalukya §1).

The main group of temples, known as the Nava Brahma, was begun sometime before ad 713, the date inscribed on an enclosing wall (Skt prakara) once surrounding a part of the complex. All the temples are dedicated to the god Shiva. They exhibit a local variation of the north Indian style of architecture and are especially important as contemporary versions of forms that have not survived elsewhere. The earliest is the modest Kumara Brahma, probably begun in the later 7th century. It was followed by the Bala Brahma, now encrusted in later accretions, though particularly notable for its magnificent sculpture of the seven mother goddesses (...