The Art of Eastern India, 300–800 was first published in 1980. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
Though scholars have extensive knowledge of the art that flourished during Pala rule in Eastern India (ca. 800-1200), little is known about Eastern Indian art during the preceding 500 years. This half-millennium includes the period of the Gupta dynasty and the two centuries that bridge Gupta and Pala rule, when no single dynasty long maintained control of Eastern India. In this study, Frederick M. Asher challenges arthistorical assumptions about Pala art — that it is a new school virtually without links to earlier art 00 by demonstrating that sculpture during the Gupta period and the subsequent three centuries evolved along lines that connect it with Pala art. In so doing, he draws attention to important sculptures, most of them never previously studied, that tell us not only about an unexplored period in Indian art but also about broader aspects of the cultural history and geography of Eastern India.
Asher's work is based on field research in Bihar, West Bengal, and Bangladesh. There he gave special attention to the sites of once-flourishing Buddhist monasteries and to Hindu images still worshipped in village India. The author's photographs of the bronze, terra cotta, and stone sculptures, and his detailed text, provide a virtual catalogue raisonne of the known works of the period.
Asher's analyses of the images and his attributions of dates to them are based upon close attention to artistic style and iconography, and the study of dynastic and social history, contemporary travelers' reports, and religious history. Drawing together these diverse strands of information, he describes the evolution of art forms over a long period in which there was little apparent historic unity. John M. Rosenfield, professor of art history at Harvard University and author of The Art of the Kushans, says, of The Art of Eastern India,"The scholarship is scrupulously detailed and careful . . . [The book] is in the finest tradition of classical scholarship, and will be consulted or several generations."
Interlacing Words and Things: Bridging the Nature-Culture Opposition in Gardens and Landscape examines the various ways in which the natural world has been transformed through the creative use of language. The nine contributors do not assume that there is an opposition between nature and culture, but rather emphasize that forms of language are embedded in our understanding and appreciation of the natural environment. Their illustrated essays consider the relationship between language and the natural world, as it has been mediated in different cultures and at different periods by broad notions such as landscape and the garden. Complementing the richness of the examples covered in the volume is the message that writing must still be integrally involved in the creative remaking of the natural world.
The first analytical history of Sarnath, the place where the Buddha preached hisfirst sermon and established the Buddhist monastic order.
Sarnath has long been regarded as the place where the Buddha preached his first sermon and established the Buddhist monastic order. Excavations at Sarnath have yielded the foundations of temples and monastic dwellings, two Buddhist reliquary mounds (stupas), and some of the most important sculptures in the history of Indian art. This volume offers the first critical examination of the historic site.
Frederick M. Asher provides a longue durée (long-term) analysis of Sarnath—including the plunder, excavation, and display of antiquities and the Archaeological Survey of India’s presentation—and considers what lies beyond the fenced-in excavated area. His analytical history of Sarnath’s architectural and sculptural remains contains a significant study of the site’s sculptures, their uneven production, and their global distribution. Asher also examines modern Sarnath, which is a living establishment replete with new temples and monasteries that constitute a Buddhist presence on the outskirts of Varanasi, the most sacred Hindu city.