Oriental Art

  • The report deals with similar compositional schemes in the art of different religions of AncientIndia on the example of two iconographic schemes: Triumphing Buddha over Mara (Maravijaya or “Temptation of the Buddha by the demon Mara”) and the temptation of Pārśvanātha by the demon Meghmal. With varying degrees of detail, this plot is presented in the iconographic program of various Indian temple complexes.The plot of these two scenes — Buddhist and Jaina — is similar: the demonic forces are trying to get the meditating ascetic out of his concentration, to break down in various ways, preventing enlightenment. Demonic figures, located around a large central figure, are the personifications of various passions with which a person who chooses an ascetic feat has to fight.

    An important feature of the compositions analysed in the report is the presence of images of musicians playing different instruments. The value of these images will be paid special attention. Historically, the development of the art of the three major religions of early medieval India went in parallel (Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism). Temples of different religions often coexisted in one complex, the most striking example being the rock-cut complex of Ellora, where Buddhists, Jains and Hindu coexisted during centuries in early medieval period. In the first centuries B.C. in Mathura, temples of Buddhists, Jains, Shaivites,Vishnuites, and even admirers of the Nagas were neighbours; in Badami and Aihole, Jain temples coexist with Hindu sanctuaries. If you look at the Jaina reliefs of the cave temples of Udaigiri and Khandagiri of Orissa, you can see that they bear the imprint of the pictorial tradition of the Buddhist monuments of Sanchi and so on.The choice of the same composite schemes for the realization of similar ideas is a characteristic feature of Indian art of the time of religious iconography formation, when successfully found solutions were borrowed,migrating from one religion to another. This concerns not only visual art, but also architecture.

  • This paper examines ragamala, a unique phenomenon of Indian art that connects music, poetry and painting. For more than a century studying, many its aspects have not been investigated sufficiently yet. Although some samples of its first known manifestation in painting became textbook examples for the ragamala studies, the scope of their appearance usually remains out of the researchers’ attention. Notably, those scopes are quite different from those which gave life to the next tradition, and their study clarifies a complex nature of the phenomenon as a whole. The earliest known images of ragas appear in the margins of Kalpasutra, the canonical text of Jainism. Despite their peripheral position in the manuscript, they are presented asan organized system, parallel to the main text, and therefore play a certain role in it. The following study discusses the circumstances that influenced the form and the fact of the appearance of ragas in Kalpasutra manuscript. It also considers the sources of their iconography, and offers an interpretation of their images, based on a comparative analysis with typologically similar objects in Western Indian painting of the same period.

  • Architectural and structural details in the form of stalactites are known on monuments which belong to different faiths and ethnic groups, and they had a diverse purpose. Earliest objects are represented by such outstanding structures as the portal, the mihrab and the minaret of the Uzbek mosque in the Solkhat (1314), the portal of the medresse Inji-bey Hatun, in the same place (1332/33), the portal and the mihrab of the mosque in Sheikh-Koy (1358). Their architectonics and stylistic features demonstrate the building traditions that prevailed in the territory of Asia Minor during the Seljuk Emirates. After 1475 the stalactite details of the Crimean monuments gradually begin to take on the forms, which are typical of the Ottoman architecture. Also in use were the details of the 14th century, which survived and received a new life in secondary use in a number mosques of the 16th–17th centuries. External mihrabs of the Juma-Jami in the Gözlöw, which was built in the 1552 upon the project of the chief architect of the Porta — Hodzha Sinan’, are reminiscent of classical examples of the Seljuk time. The archway of the durbe Hadji Giray (1501) portal’s in Salachik has architectonics, the sources of which originate in the Anatolian wooden architecture. Among the buildings ofthe 18th century the main mihrab of the mosque in the Pionerskoe village stands out. The construction of its arch in many places is simulated by the use of voluminous geometric ornament of carpet type.

  • The Indian popular prints have so far attracted little attention from Russian researchers, although they are represented in the collections of the State Museum of the History of Religion, the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, the Tretyakov Gallery. The State Museum of Oriental Art has recently acquired an album of Calcutta chromolithographs, whose story is quite indicative. Initially, it was kept in the main museum collection, but was later moved to the library’s vault — its artistic qualities were assessed as unworthy of the museum collection. Now, when the study of folk and popular art is becoming more relevant, it is necessary to give a new assessment of the aesthetics of these things. This assessment should be based on the sociohistorical context in which chromolithographs were created.

    Calcutta is a unique art center in 19th-century India where synthetic culture was formed, reflecting both native Indian and colonial aesthetics. A short but vivid history of the existence of the popular paintings and prints of Calcutta — kalighat, battala woodcuts, and then chromolithographs, prepared the ground for the formation of a unique modern popular culture of this country. The evolution of artistic techniques and iconography in Calcutta chromolithographs helps to trace the evolution of the national identity of Indian artists.

  • The article deals with several examples of different perspective systems, used by Italian artist Giuseppe Castiglione (Lang Shining), who led a group of court painters at the Manchu court in Beijing, developing the new artistic xianfa method (the linear method). Analysing linear perspective in two hanging and one horizontal (hand-) scrolls, the author demonstrates the artist’s masterly combination of traditional Chinese axonometric depiction with European perspective system while depicting buildings and landscapes, demanded by his royal clients. Touching on the differences between execution and perception of the verticaland horizontal scrolls, the author demonstrates Castiglione’s ability to combine European and Chinese traditional approaches to space delineation, when the artist composes large forms according to the linear perspective principles, and depicts smaller objects using Chinese axonometry. The composition of renowned scroll The Hundred Horses is analysed in detail, being the unique example of surviving Castiglione’s early painting, where the artist unified three perspective vistas with respective vanishing points. The author argues that only format, technique, and pictorial motifs of this work connect this scroll with Chinese tradition, defining origins of Lang Shining’s reopening Chinese multifocal perspective in the artist’s masterly usage of European theatrical scenography theoreticians’ legacy.

  • In this article the term wayō (和様 “Japanese style”) of the Japanese art history is analysed: its etymology, meaning and usage in general and in relation to Japanese sculpture of Heian period (794–1185), in particular. With reference to the contemporary Japanese authors addressing the same questions, it has been possible to establish that, unlike other types of cultural objects (marked as “Japanese” or “non-Japanese” back in the past), sculpture of particular periods was said to express “Japanese style” only in Modern times, originally in politicised contexts. However, being semantically rich and multi-layered, the concept of wayō gradually became the instrument of indicating Japanese identity as part of the discourse on the traditional. For this reason, I argue that the Russian translation and usage of the term “iaponskij stil’” (“Japanese style”) is inadequate, especially with the attribute “national”. Instead, I suggest using the transliteration wayō or, alternatively, “Jōchō-style” or “Fujiwara-style”, providing commentaries on the concept and term by modern and contemporary Japanese authors.

  • While some research has been carried out on the history of formation of Chinese and Japanese art collections in Saint Petersburg and Moscow, only a few studies explored the formation of Asian art collections of regional museums. While the history of collecting indicates that it was a complex and multilayered process, there are a considerable number of Asian objects that are dated from the pre-revolutionary period. Among a number of different sources one is outstanding —a Tea Road from China to Russia.

    This study hypothesizes that a significant share of Asian objects that are preserved in collections of Russian museums which are located in towns and cities linked geographically and/or economically to the Tea Road could have originated from the collections of the tea traders and because of this these collections could have similarities in structure and quality of the objects. Basing on a survey conducted in cooperation with the specialists in local museums of Yekaterinburg, Irbit, Irkutsk, Ulan-Ude, and Kyakhta, this research aims to distinguish art objects that went back to the pre-revolutionary collections of the tea traders and to detect their provenance and to identify collectors.