The Beginnings of Buddhist Art

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Buddhist Art

Transcript of The Beginnings of Buddhist Art

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California

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THE LIBRARY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA LOS ANGELES

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I

THE BEGINNINGSOF

BUDDHIST ART

Primed forA.

PAUL GEUTHNERand A.

bySucc", Anoers, France.

BURDIN.

F.

GAVLTIER

THtBERT,

en

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DEDICATEDWITH PROFOUND RESPECT AND AFFECTIONATE REGARDTO

>

M.

AUGUSTE BARTHMember of theInstitute:

MASTER OF PENETRATING AND CREATIVE CRITICISMIN ALL

BRANCHES OF SANSKRIT LEARNING

June 1^14.

TREFACE

To

the

ratherthe

limited circle oj scholars

interested in

Indian Art and

Archeologystudies

work of M. Foucher requires no introduction. His numerous devoted to these subjects, and in particular his comprehensive treatise

on

the

Grseco-Buddhist Art of Gandhdra, have fully established his position

as a

leader in this sphere.

A

collective

edition of his essays

and

addresses,

dispersed in various serial

and

periodical publications, will therefore be sure

of a

warm

welcome.this

The translators do not disavow a hope that

English version

may

appeal

not only to those readers, chiefly in the East, to

whom

the

author

s original

presents a difficulty,

but also

to

a rather wider public in England and which in Paris attendedthe

America. Aware of

the interest

delivery of

M.

Toucher's lectures, they would regret ijthe

charm had

so far evaporated in

translation as to forfeit

a share inespecially

the

growing appreciation of Oriental

art.

Buddhism jor veyed is.

it is

Buddhist monuments that are here sur-

of course,

a

subject of vast extent.

We may add

that

it is

a highlystage,

organic subject,

and

that the study of it is still at

a specially interesting

the stage of discovery.

We

cannot touch

it

in

any part without evokingmight compareletit to

res-

ponses from distantcarpet;

and unexpected quarters.

We

a magicGrsco-

we fix upon some well

defined topic, relating,

us say,

to the

Buddhist school of Gandhdra, and promptly, even without our volition, someanalogy or connection transports usto the

Central Asia, China or Japan of

many

centuries later, even if

we have

not to continue ourflight to Java in the

ninth century or

Cambodia

in the twelfth. The reader will find in these pagestransitions.to the

abundant examples of suchingeniousitself,

The first essays reach back by a highlyvery origins of Buddhist art in India

and probable hypothesis

and

give us the measure of

its possibilities

by what

it

has achieved at

Sdnchi and Barhut. Already wethe Persia of the

detect

some traces of foreign influence, from

Achxmenids. Soon an abrupt irruption of Hellenistic art

VIII

PREFACEthe the

overwhelmstions,

native schools,

and

creates a repertory of religious composito

which

Buddhist propaganda carriesislands.

Central Asia, the

Far East,most

and

the

Malay

Thus

is

established,

a

genetic connection between the

religious art of

Europe and Asia

a double

efflorescence

from oneclosely

root,

strikingly exemplified in the case of thethe earliest sculptural type of Christ,

Buddha

type,

which

resembles

and most curiously

in that of the ^Tutethe

lary Pair' , found throughout the zuhole Buddhist spherein ancient

and at

same time

Gaul

:

or shall

we claim

the highest degree of interest for the case

of the

'Madonna' group {Essay IX). which

ultimately derived, in allthe

probability,

from ancient Egypt has ended by conqueringto be fruitful, both

whole world

?

Tins splendid generalisation cannot fail

on the European:

and onwhileit

the Asiatic side, in inspiration for future researches

in the

mean-

may

be

welcomed as reestablishing by

the aid

of art that feeling of

solidaritythe

and sympathy between India and Europe,

luhich flourished

during

palmy days of Vedic

studies, but latterly has been

somewhat discouraged

by specialism.

Need we remark

that,

where religious art and archeology are

the thenu,

literature and literary history cannot be far

away

?

M. Fouchrhas commentedwith which heis

upon

the predominantly narrative character of the bas-reliefs:

dealing

it

may indeedlife mt'St,

be said that, apart from purely decorative figures

andthe

symbols, the great bulk of them are illustrations of scenes

from

the life

of

Buddha. The

indeed, be conceived in

an ample

sense, according to

that grandiose Indian conception whereby, asus, the biography is not confined to

M.

Fouchcr opportunely remindsthe

a single span, but coversexistence,

whole

series

of

countless births, under all

forms of

which were necessary for

the

accumulation of the positive and negative characteristics manifested finally inthe

Great Being,

the

Perfijly Illuminated. The scenes thenfore needvery alphabet

to be

read,

and at

first the

was wanting. The problem was offar

greater obscurity than in the case of what

M.

Foucher terms

the magnificent

illustrated bible constituted by the sculptors of the cathedral of Chartres.texts of the

Thethosethe

Buddhist religion have only gradually been made knownlife

:

events in the

which were specially marked out for illustration

twelve acts of Buddha

and

so forth

had

not been separated out

;

the

J^taka

book, recording the tales of previous births,

was

not at first available.

The

names of

those scholars to

whom we

are indebted for the

first tentatives at

decipherment, such as the inspired, if not impeccable, archxologist. General Sir

Alexander Cunningham, Prof. Griinwedel of

the Berlin

Ethnographicalof the Imperial

Museum, Dr. Serge

d' Oldenburg,

Perpetual Secretary

PREFACE^Academy ofSt. Petersburg,

IXfound recurring inFoucher' s

and

others will be

M. Fou-

chers pages. But undoubtedly the matter has in

M.

own work made

a long

step

forwardso

:

the reader will

remark not only

the artistic insight

which gives

much

ease

and

certainty to the identifications in this volume, but

also the emergence of principles fitted to serve as a guide for future discovery

and

criticism in this field of study.art,

In a word, we

see

taking shape, not onlyin

an

but also

a science of discoveryto

and

interpretation

regard

to

Buddhist, and by consequence

Indian, illustration.is

lA history of Buddhist Art

a task for

the future

;

may we some day

have the pleasure of welcoming a systematic treatise upon the subject from

M.

Foucher's oiun pen. For the presentits

we are

only at the commencement.

Nothing guarantees us that inwithit

beginnings the Art shall be found on a level

the doctrine, or that it shall

follow a parallel course, or again thatrapidity.

shall develope with

a proportional

Gn

the contrary,

we

see

alreadyit

that

atits

Sdnchi

and

Barhut, afterto

centuries

of

active

speculation,

makespiety.

appeal primarily

a community

characteri::^ed by

naive and simple

In

the case of Christianity

how many

centuries

of dogmatic strife

precede the age of the primitives ! Nevertheless the reader

who turns from

the

essays on

Barhut and Sdnchi

to those

dealing with the Great Miraclebe his impression, if he

and

with Boro- Budurhis

much clearer wouldof

embraced in

view

the

medieval and modern art

China, fapan, and Tibet

cannotpartialless sophis-

fail

to note the

metaphysical contemplation which has groiun upon the decayto the

of

the older

popular piety. Yet even here we have a warning as