ChanchaniHISTART 305 / ASAIN 335: Himalayas - An Aesthetic Exploration

Winter 2017Winter 2015

Rama and Lakshmana sit under a tree with the King of the monkeys, surrounded by monkeys. Some monkeys have taken to flight in the upper corners of the drawing. With a few deft strokes the artist conveys the swiftly changing emotions of the moment, as the monkeys respond with astonishment, empathy, and action to Rama’s pleas. <br />
Drawing for a Ramayana series: Rama, Lakshmana and Sugriva in conference (fol. 204)
ink on paper
9 3/4 in x 13 5/8 in (24.77 cm x 34.61 cm);8 1/16 in x 12 5/8 in (20.5 cm x 32 cm)
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Leo S. Figiel and Dr. and Mrs. Steven J. Figiel.
The drawing is mounted on an album page of a yellowish color flecked with gold.  There is a narrow frame in a slighter lighter tone outlined with gold and red lines.  The main figure sits facing the viewer and is in a long robe.  An emaciated, nearly nude figure faces him squatting with his hand on one knee.  Another ascetic stands and offers obeisance to the master.  One dog rolls around in front of him and another on a leash walks behind him.  There is a clump of bushes to the lower left and a tree to the upper left tops a diagonal leading down to the right with a large group of twisted trees. <br />
Artist Unknown, Mughal Workshop, Uttar Pradesh
Ascetics with dogs in landscape
black and red opaque watercolor and gold on paper
8 3/4 in x 13 1/2 in (22.22 cm x 34.29 cm);19 5/16 in x 14 5/16 in (49.05 cm x 36.35 cm);13 1/16 in x 8 1/4 in (33.18 cm x 20.96 cm)
Museum purchase, Acquisition Fund
Balbir Sen of Mandi sits with his legs tucked under him against a purplish bolster on an oval orange carpet with a green border.  He wears a white garment with green borders and some jewelry:  a ring, bracelets, an armlet, necklaces, earrings and wears a green turban with a turban jewel across the front, surmounted by a black feathered aigrette.  A sword signifying his rank lies across his body.  He sits in strict profile with a heavy black beard and mustache.  The paper is plain and uncolored except around the figure, which is painted against a white wash taking the shape of the seated man and his setting.<br />Inscriptions in devanagari script are above the painting.<br />
Portrait of Maharaja Balbir Sen of Mandi
opaque watercolor and gold on paper
7 1/4 in x 5 1/8 in (18.4 cm x 13 cm);19 3/8 in x 14 3/8 in (49.21 cm x 36.51 cm)
Gift of Mr. George P. Bickford for the James Marshall Plumer Memorial Collection
A bejewelled nayika holds an amorous pose. The portrait is focused on her upper body and side face.
Artist Unknown, India, Rajasthan, Udaipur School
ink, opaque watercolor, silver, and gold on paper
9 5/16 x 5 1/4 in. (23.5 x 13.3 cm);18 3/16 x 22 3/16 in. (46.04 x 56.2 cm)
Gift of Mr. George P. Bickford for the James Marshall Plumer Memorial Collection
In this intensely lyrical painting from Bundelkhand in Central India, the great river is shown tumbling from the night sky. Ascetics sit cross-legged on the mountainside, offering their austerities to Shiva, while women come to venerate Ganga. The river teems with life—crocodiles, turtles, fish, and birds—while lions, leopards, jackals, monkeys, and rabbits cavort on its banks.
Descent of the River Ganges
ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
10 in x 7 in (25.4 cm x 17.78 cm);19 5/16 in x 14 5/16 in (49.05 cm x 36.35 cm);8 5/8 in x 5 7/8 in (21.91 cm x 14.92 cm)
Museum purchase made possible by a gift of Sarah W. Graf and Otto G. Graf
An elephant seems to walk on water from the bottom right corner of the composition, rising towards Vishnu in the upper left with a single lotus flower in its trunk. Vishnu, with 4 arms, steps on green hills surrounding the lotus covered pond, bending towards the elephant. Garuda flies in the upper right.
The Salvation of the Elephant (Gaj Mokasha)
paint on canvas
7 1/2 in x 10 1/16 in (19 cm x 25.5 cm)
Gift of George H. Lauff
Bold colors depict Krishna, one of human manifestations of the Hindu god Vishnu, is seated with a woman, Radha, above him. He touches her leg, and the tips of her hands and feet glow red. She sits erect and holds a large flower, looking straight off the left edge of the picture. The two are framed in an architectural structure.
Artist Unknown, India, Punjab Hills, Mankot School
Krishna massaging the feet of Radha (a scene from the Gita Govinda?)
ink, opaque watercolor, gold, and beetle thorax casings on paper
10 1/2 in x 8 in (26.7 cm x 20.3 cm);19 5/16 in x 14 5/16 in (49.05 cm x 36.35 cm);10 1/2 in x 8 in (26.67 cm x 20.32 cm)
Museum purchase made possible by the Margaret Watson Parker Art Collection Fund
Artist Unknown, India, Rajasthan, Amber School
Ragamala series: Varadi ragini
ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
12 in x 7 7/16 in (30.5 cm x 18.9 cm)
Gift of Mr. George P. Bickford for the James Marshall Plumer Memorial Collection
A blue-skinned figure faces a female, who are both seated within a white structure overlooking a courtyard. Outside the walls of the building, two men walk with bows and arrows. To the lower right, four female figures are gathered around a tree.
The Eleventh Month
ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
11 1/4 in x 7 1/4 in (28.58 cm x 18.41 cm);19 5/16 in x 14 5/16 in (49.05 cm x 36.35 cm);11 3/16 in x 7 1/4 in (28.42 cm x 18.41 cm)
Gift of Professor Walter M. and Nesta R. Spink
A portable painting done in ink and gouache on loose-weave, primed cotton, surround by two strips of fabric. This painting has suffered greatly from water damage, running the pigments together.
Yungdron Dorje Pal (1284–1365) subduing a wrathful demon while attended by a meditation deity, Mahakala and other monks.
ink and gouache on cotton
4 ft. x 26 1/2 in. (121.92 x 67.31 cm);4 ft. x 26 1/2 in. (121.92 x 67.31 cm)
Gift of Mrs. Josselyn Van Tyne
A silk hanging scroll with images of members of a pantheon of gods.
Tibetan Thangka Hanging Scroll
silk on hanging scroll
44 in. x 29 in. ( 111.76 cm x 73.66 cm )
Gift of the Estate of Anne L. McGrew
A portable painting in mineral pigments and gold on a primed cotton ground; the painting is designed to be rolled up when not in use. The painting was folded at some time in its history, resulting in a loss of pigment along two vertical lines.

Pehar Gyalpo
ink, gouache, and gold pigment on cotton
17 13/16 in. x 13 3/4 in. ( 45.3 cm x 34.9 cm )
Gift of Mrs. Caroline I. Plumer for the James Marshall Plumer Collection

The Himalayas are the world’s longest and loftiest mountain range. This course will commence with a review of influential Indic and Western perceptions of the Himalayas. Thereafter, we will proceed to glean some of the many ways in which the shaping of objects and the crafting of identities are linked in this region today. Subsequently we shall embark on a series of armchair expeditions to recover interconnections between ‘art’ and ‘life’ in the Himalayas in centuries past. Traveling in arcs stretching from the Brahmaputra valley in the east up to the upper reaches of the Indus in the west and in along axes extending from the sub-montane Terai in the south to the frosty Tibetan plateau in the north, we will repeatedly cross China, Bhutan, Nepal, India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Resting at sites sought out by pilgrims, traders, and conquerors, we will query the distinctive forms, layouts, and functions of temples, monasteries, and gardens, and the medley of objects found in them including sculptures, manuscript paintings, and water fountains.


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January 15, 2018 11:18 a.m.


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