Hardcover, 2 volumes, 630 pages, Delhi 2019
Buddhist Jewels from widespread mortuary clusters correlate with the adornment of the bodhisattvas and the divine female directing the fortunes of the departed. Courtesans mirror the yakshi and merge with various goddesses of the underworld. The domical mausoleums gather together interconnectedness of all things; magic symbols celebrate victory over dark death called Mara while the conception of secret signs transform stone into gold, gold into ivory, and ivory into terracotta. From Central Asia to South Asia countless stupa mounds enshrining precious relics are raised and activated by recurring magic motifs to cause superlative Nirvana. Among hybrid guardians of the dead are aerial and waterborne dragons and griffins swooping from the Mediterranean Sea. Afghanistan’s Golden Mound filled with mortuary jewels unique to TillyaTepe necropolis heightens the wide-ranging Roman network of borrowings in the Greco-Buddhist reliquary cult.
Arputharani Sengupta is Professor in History of Art and the author of several books in the field of Greco-Buddhist art. Her research is focused on the unique position of Indian art at the intersection of vibrant cultural exchange during the Roman Empire. Best known for the multicultural history of ancient India, she finds its global core in the groundbreaking symbols bared by the cross-referenced context of Buddhist art and artifacts. These were created by the matrix of transnational jeweler-sculptors with superb inherited skills and intimate knowledge about the mortuary cult booming in the vast domain of the Greco-Scythian Kushana kings. Her latest book (2018), The Silk Road Fabrics: The Stein Collection in the National Museum of Indiareveals the Cultural Revolution brought by the contact between East and West during the early historic period in South Asia.