Interpretation of Early Buddhist Art Essay

1353 Words Feb 25th, 2013 6 Pages
Interpreting Early Buddhist Art

In the articles “Early Buddhist Art and the Theory of Aniconism” by Susan L. Huntington and “Aniconism and the Multivalence of Emblems” by Vidya Dehejia, two different opinions and viewpoints are expressed towards the theory of Aniconism and the way early Buddhist art was intended to be viewed and interpreted. In both articles, the authors acknowledge the theory of Aniconism and it’s existence. However both Huntington and Dehejia propose different explanations and evidence as to why they believe Aniconism is not the only or most ideal system to understanding a piece of early Buddhist art. In Dehejia’s article “Aniconism and the Multivalence of Emblems,” she shows her concern for the lack of full
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Not so much as just simply the location of the tree in which the enlightenment happened and more specifically during the time of the Buddha Vesvabhu. Another intriguing point from Huntington is that many pieces of sculpted Buddhist art has started to surface, dating back to the pre-Kusana period, which supposedly challenges the idea that the Kusana period is what brought about the use of anthromorphic Buddha images, thus another challenge against the theory of Aniconism (Huntington 1990, 402-403).
Dehejia’s second style to interpreting Buddhist art begins with identifying the use or representation of a sacred spots or center of devotion to the Buddhist culture in art form. Dehejia explains this through the images Site of Sarnath and Site of Bodh Gaya both located on the west pillar of the Sanchi south gateways. On these two panels, a pillar and a tree are represented with a group, a deer, and worshippers huddled at the base of the pillar, and a shrine circling the base of the tree, representing Sarnarth, and Bodh Gaya respectively. Dehejia makes note to the fact that it is interpreted this way, and not in reference to the presence of Buddha, specifically due to the pillar and trees context, within the art. Dehejia has pointed out here that this early Buddhist art, is clearly depicting devotion and their loyalty to sacred centers (Dehejia 1991, 58).
This is where Dehejia and

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