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Narrative Visions and Visual Narratives in Indian Buddhism

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This volume explores the interaction between text and image in Indian Buddhist contexts, including not only the complex relationship between verbal stories and visual representations at Indian sites, but also the ways in which visual imagery is used within textual narratives. The chapters are authored by a mixture of textual scholars and art historians, bringing together different disciplinary perspectives in order to seek a richer understanding of how text and art relate, and of the role of narrative imagery in different media and contexts.

After two introductory chapters, the second of which places Buddhist narrative into the physical and devotional landscape of early India, the volume is divided into three sections. Imagery and Images offers papers exploring the work of imagery, within narrative texts and in artistic settings, and through the role of colour across written and pictorial sources. Visual and Textual Depictions contains papers that explore the relationship between visual and verbal forms of the same stories and how uses and interpretations may differ. The final section, Visualising the Buddha, uses stories of the Buddha as a way of exploring the power of narrative and visualisation in devotional and biographical practice.

The volume seeks to bridge the divide that traditionally exists between textual scholars and art historians, and to challenge the contributors to think beyond the usual boundaries of our work.

Published: Jun 1, 2021

Section Chapter Authors
Setting the Scene Naomi Appleton
Chapter 1
Encounters with Illustrations of the Buddha’s Lifestory: Three Case Studies John Strong
Chapter 2
Sancī Stūpa 2 and Modes of Visual Narration Flavia Zaghet
Chapter 3
Visualising the Human and the Divine in Painted Illustrations from Ajaṇṭā Madhulika Reddy
Chapter 4
The Complex Rules of Unpretentious Pictures: Narrative Paintings in Kucha Monika Zin
Chapter 5
Stairway from Heaven: Utpalavarṇā and the Buddha in the Art of Early India Sonya Rhie Mace
Chapter 6
Textual and Visual “Versions”: The Case of the Six-tusked Elephant Bodhisattva Naomi Appleton, Chris Clark
Chapter 7
Gandhāran Ascetic Topographies: Śyāma, Ekaśṛṅga and Vīryabala Jātakas in Text, Image, and Landscape Jason Neelis
Chapter 8
The Buddha as Spiritual Sovereign: Narrative Figurations of Knowledge and Power David Fiordalis
Chapter 9
When You Want to See the Buddha: Verbal Technologies for Visual Encounters in the Vimalakīrtinirdeśa Natalie Gummer
Chapter 10
Making Senses of the Story: Narrative, Art and Affect at the Great Stupas of Ancient South Asia Jonathan Walters