Sacred Traces: British Explorations of Buddhism in South Asia, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Sacred Traces

British Explorations of Buddhism in South Asia, 1st Edition

By Janice Leoshko


184 pages

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Hardback: 9780754601388
pub: 2003-02-28
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In his novel Kim, in which a Tibetan pilgrim seeks to visit important Buddhist sites in India, Rudyard Kipling reveals the nineteenth-century fascination with the discovery of the importance of Buddhism in India's past. Janice Leoshko, a scholar of South Asian Buddhist art uses Kipling's account and those of other western writers to offer new insight into the priorities underlying nineteenth-century studies of Buddhist art in India. In the absence of written records, the first explorations of Buddhist sites were often guided by accounts of Chinese pilgrims. They had journeyed to India more than a thousand years earlier in search of sacred traces of the Buddha, the places where he lived, obtained enlightenment, taught and finally passed into nirvana. The British explorers, however, had other interests besides the religion itself. They were motivated by concerns tied to the growing British control of the subcontinent. Building on earlier interventions, Janice Leoshko examines this history of nineteenth-century exploration in order to illuminate how early concerns shaped the way Buddhist art has been studied in the West and presented in its museums.


'The book is a valuable contribution to the emerging body of literature that examines approaches to material culture in order to reassess the British encounter with South Asia.' Pika Ghosh, CAA Reviews

'… slim, elegantly produced, amply illustrated monograph by a scholar who is a specialist on the Buddhist art and architecture of eastern India.' Tapati Guha-Thakurta, South Asian Studies

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Introduction; On studying Indian Buddhist art; Identifying the sacred geography of Indian Buddhism; Determining the images of sacred Buddhist geography; Defining the later images of eastern India; A postcript on seeing sacred images; Bibliography; Index.

About the Series

Histories of Vision

Histories of Vision
Art history is not only an historical discipline, it is also the visual study of works of art. There is no naturally given, self-evident and transparent link between the object, its perception, its representation and its functions. Images are cultural constructions with their own poetics and histories, but vision as well has its histories. The aim of this series is to reconstruct these histories. It is devoted to the study of works of art considered as ways of seeing, viewing practices, and the various codifications of visual perception connected with the arts and artistic theories through the ages. The series not only covers painting and sculpture, but also architecture. Its scope is not limited to Western art, but includes in particular the ways in which non-Western art has been perceived in Western art history.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ART / History / General
ART / Subjects & Themes / Religious