Narrative Visions and Visual Narratives in Indian Buddhism - Naomi Appleton

Narrative Visions and Visual Narratives in Indian Buddhism - Naomi Appleton

5. Localizing Narrative through Image: The Nun Utpalavarṇā in a Stone Relief from Kaushambi

Narrative Visions and Visual Narratives in Indian Buddhism - Naomi Appleton

Sonya Rhie Mace [+-]
Cleveland Museum of Art
Sonya Rhie Mace, Ph.D. is the George P. Bickford Curator of Indian and Southeast Asian Art at the Cleveland Museum of Art and Adjunct Professor of Art History at Case Western Reserve University. Her publications include History of Early Stone Sculpture at Mathura, ca. 150 BCE to 100 CE (Brill 2007), “Transformations of Identity and the Buddha’s Infancy Narratives at Kanaganahalli” Archives of Asian Art 67:1 (2017), and “Clearing the Course: Folio 348 of the Nepalese Gaṇḍavyūha-sūtra in the Cleveland Museum of Art” Religions 11 (2020). She is currently working on a major exhibition with accompanying publication on the art and site of Phnom Da, Revealing Krishna: Journey to Cambodia’s Sacred Mountain to open in October 2021.

Description

This chapter explores similar questions through a study of a key narrative in visual and textual forms. The Buddha's descent from the Trāyastriṃśa Heaven at Sāṃkāśya is one among many scenes from the life of Śākyamuni at the copiously embellished stupa sites of Bharhut, Kanaganahalli and Sanchi. At these grand establishments, the scene is readily recognizable by the graphic image of the vertical staircase, surrounded by celestial jubilants and assemblies of idyllic lay people. One example from this early period of art in peninsular India, includes the nun Utpalavarṇā venerating Śākyamuni upon his arrival. The relief is carved on an upright of a small section of a monolithic railing found at Ghoṣitārāma Monastery at Kauśāmbī. This chapter argues that the Descent episode on the large-scale public monuments was intended to impress visitors with the miracle of the staircase and Buddha's ability to move magically between earth and heaven. In reliefs carved on a small scale in a monastic context, on the other hand, the same scene appears to point instead to concerns of the clergy that are fleshed out in the vinaya version of the story, an unpublished new translation of which forms the basis of this analysis.

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Citation

Mace, Sonya Rhie. 5. Localizing Narrative through Image: The Nun Utpalavarṇā in a Stone Relief from Kaushambi. Narrative Visions and Visual Narratives in Indian Buddhism. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. Apr 2022. ISBN 9781800501317. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=39991. Date accessed: 27 Jan 2022 doi: 10.1558/equinox.39991. Apr 2022

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