Hardcover, 215 pages, bw and colour illustrations, Washington 2010, new
Mary Slusser’s work on the history of the art and culture of Nepal is marked by a series of discoveries and critical reassessments that have advanced our comprehension of this extraordinarily rich culture and art in a revolutionary way. In The Antiquity of Nepalese Wood Carving, Dr. Slusser drastically revises our perception of the marvelous wooden sculpture of the Kathmandu Valley.
Previously considered to be no earlier than the thirteenth century, the earliest of these wooden masterpieces have now been clearly demonstrated to date from the sixth or seventh century, the time of the Licchavis, lords of Nepal from about 300 to 850. Slusser has used an important scientific tool, radiocarbon dating, to help realign -- and correct -- our overly conservative accepted perceptions of the antiquity of Nepalese wood sculpture. The book is bolstered by the meticulous and painstaking research and documentation that are among the hallmarks of Slusser’s works. It is also enriched by her extraordinary photographic archive. Beautiful struts and architectural details that have long been missing from the sites where Slusser first saw them are shown once again in situ in this work, and new photographs, largely the work of Neil Greentree, reveal a wealth of previously unsuspected detail. Also included is an essay by Paul Jett that is both a brief explanation of the science of radiocarbon testing and a validation of the revised dating of Nepalese wood carving proposed in the study.