With new photography of extraordinarily rare works of art, this pioneering study features discoveries and research essential to understanding the origins and meaning of Buddhist artistic traditions
“Both the show and the book are extraordinary achievements. . . . They will astonish even those who think they are familiar with the art of Buddhism.”—William Dalrymple, New York Review of Books
Named for two primary motifs in Buddhist art, the sacred bodhi tree and the protective snake, Tree & Serpent: Early Buddhist Art in India is the first publication to foreground devotional works produced in the Deccan from 200 BCE to 400 CE. Unlike traditional narratives, which focus on northern India (where the Buddha was born, taught, and died), this groundbreaking book presents Buddhist art from monastic sites in the south. Long neglected, this is among the earliest corpus of Buddhist art surviving, and among the most sublimely beautiful. An international team of researchers contributes new scholarship on the sculptural and devotional art associated with Buddhism, and masterpieces from recently excavated Buddhist sites are published here for the first time—including Kanaganahalli and Phanigiri, the most important new discoveries in a generation. With its exploration of Buddhism’s emergence in southern India, as well as of India’s deep commercial and cultural engagement with the Hellenized and Roman worlds, the definitive study expands our understanding of the origins of Buddhist art itself.
Published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Distributed by Yale University Press
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (July 21–November 13, 2023)
National Museum of Korea, Seoul (December 22, 2023–April 14, 2024)
John Guy is Florence and Herbert Irving Curator of the Arts of South and Southeast Asia in the Department of Asian Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
“A spectacular achievement . . . [that] opens a window onto a sophisticated courtly and monastic world previously known to only a handful of art historians. . . . Tree & Serpent—beautifully curated and spectacularly well lit—is accompanied by an exceptional scholarly catalog. Both the show and the book are extraordinary achievements. . . . They will astonish even those who think they are familiar with the art of Buddhism.”—William Dalrymple, New York Review of Books
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