Many Heads, Arms, and Eyes: Origin, Meaning, and Form of Multiplicity in Indian Art

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Brill, 1997 - Architecture - 355 pages
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One of the first things that strike the Western viewer of Indian art is the multiplicity of heads, arms and eyes. This convention grows out of imagery conceived by Vedic sages to explain creation. This book for the first time investigates into the meaning of this convention. The author concentrates on its origins in Hindu art and on preceding textual references to the phenomenon of multiplicity. The first part establishes a general definition for the convention. Examination of all Brahmanical literature up to, and sometimes beyond, the 1st - 3rd century A.D., adds more information to this basic definition. The second part applies this literary information mainly to icons of the Yaksa, iva, V sudeva-Kr sn a and the Goddess, and indicates how Brahmanical cultural norms, exemplified in Mathur, can transmit textual symbols. Both Part I and Part II provide iconic modules and a methodology to generate interpretations for icons with this remarkable feature through the Gupta age."

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About the author (1997)

Doris Meth Srinivasan, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, is Curator of South and Southeast Asian Art at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. She has published extensively on the art of Mathura; Hindu iconography; Vedic studies, including Vedic and ancient Hindu rituals.