Book: Narrative Visions and Visual Narratives in Indian Buddhism
Chapter: 6. Beyond Textual and Visual “Versions”: The Story Cluster of the Six-tusked Elephant Bodhisattva
This chapter offers a model for how we might study the relationships between visual and textual narratives that moves beyond the idea that an image is a depiction of a text. It uses the many textual and visual “versions” of the story of Chaddanta, a six-tusked elephant king who offers his tusks to an evil hunter. Through exploring the various manifestations of this narrative, the chapter challenges the notion of “version” as a way to understand clusters of stories either within texts or across verbal and visual forms. It offers some new suggestions about how we can best understand the choices that were made in Indian Buddhist textual and visual composition, especially when dealing with stories that already had a life of their own in the popular imagination.