This beautifully illustrated volume details how South Asian art has been acquired by public and private collectors in Europe, North America, and Singapore from the mid-nineteenth century onward. It traces the various journeys and colonial legacies of artwork from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
Contributors explore the removal of art objects from their countries of origin for external appreciation. They discuss British collecting practices during colonial rule in South Asia, when military officials and individuals associated with the East India Company transported various pieces to the Tower of London, the British Museum, and the Royal Ontario Museum. An overview of Newark Museum’s unique history of acquiring art originating in South Asia―comprising over 3,000 objects―is provided, followed by insight into the birth of postcolonial exhibitions during a cultural renaissance in Singapore.
The authors also tell the stories of private collectors including Alfred Chester Beatty, who bequeathed his entire library of miniature paintings and rare manuscripts to the people of Ireland; Ananda Coomaraswamy, who played an integral role in introducing Indian art to the West; Hugh Nevill, who compiled over 2,000 manuscripts in Sri Lanka; and Nasli Heeramaneck, who became one of the world’s leading dealers in Asian arts and antiques. The essays in this volume also address the ethical and political dilemmas of displaying South Asian art for Western appreciation. They highlight calls for the return of cultural property to their original sites and explain that repatriated works are often used as centerpieces of political exhibitionism rather than celebrated as recovered symbols of national heritage.
Featuring archival materials and high-quality images of key pieces, Arts of South Asia offers an inside look at early collecting practices while addressing contemporary concerns about how artwork obtained under colonial rule is displayed abroad.
Contributors: Allysa B. Peyton| Katherine Anne Paul | Hyder Abbas | Natasha Bennett | Deepali Dewan | Sushma Jansari | Gauri Parimoo Krishnan | Brinda Kumar | Dr. Pratapaditya Pal | Melody Rod-ari | Jason Steuber
A volume in the David A. Cofrin Asian Art Manuscript Series
“Step into a Burmese temple built between the late seventeenth and early nineteenth centuries and you are surrounded by a riot of color and imagery. The majority of the highly detailed wall paintings display Buddhist biographical narratives, inspiring the devotees to follow the Buddha’s teachings. Alexandra Green goes one step further to consider the temples and their contents as a whole, arguing that the wall paintings mediate the relationship between the architecture and the main Buddha statues in the temples. This forges a unified space for the devotees to interact with the Buddha and his community, with the aim of transforming the devotees’ current and future lives. These temples were a cohesively articulated and represented Burmese Buddhist world to which the devotees belonged. Green’s visits to more than 160 sites with identifiable subject matter form the basis of this richly illustrated volume, which draws upon art historical, anthropological, and religious studies methodologies to analyze the wall paintings and elucidate the contemporary religious, political, and social concepts that drove the creation of this lively art form.”
Dr. Alexandra Green is Henry Ginsburg Curator for Southeast Asia in the Department of Asia at The British Museum www.britishmuseum.org