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The Himalayan region is an area covered by the massive mountain ranges of the Himalaya, the Karakoram the Hindu Kush and some smaller ranges extending from Pamir Knot. This region separates the Indian sub continent from the Tibetan plateau and stretches across six countries namely: Nepal, India china Pakistan Afghanistan and Bhutan. The Philadelphia museum of art exhibits artifacts that explore a moment of outstanding creativity when the fame of Nepal artists spread to Tibet, Bhutan, India and all the way to Chinese court of Kublai Khan. From 13th century rulers in the Kathmandu valley added the name malla (victor or hero) to their titles due to wealth gotten from trade. These rulers, fuelled by the wealth gained, then started competing among themselves by commissioning extraordinary private and public artwork. As a result outstanding and conspicuous works like the bejeweled sculpture of Vishnu. The period between 1022 and 1603 saw the passing of a duration called the Nepalese renaissance. Predominantly Buddhist Newari artists became famous all over Asia owing to their high quality artwork. Much of the work showed the fashions of the malla period that included form fitting clothes brighter patterns and notable jewellery the work was mostly of religious purposes. The sculptures worked in stone, metal wood and terracotta
Many prominent pieces of art during the malla period were made by different artists one is the Achalla Destroyer of Evil made in the period (1200-1769) early the16th century by an unknown artist from the Newar culture. The sculpture is made from a gilded bronze with a turquoise, spinel rubies and lapis azurite. The sculpture measures 3 ¾ x 3 ¾ x 2.7 in. (9.5×9.5×3.7cm). The pleated tassel in front and the floral decorations depict clearly the Malla costumes at that period and refined carvings works of art. A balance of body parts exists with a good use of space and positioning. Another of the prominent Nepalese curving during the malla period is that one of Akshobhya, the unshakable Tathagata Buddha. The sculpture is made in the duration (1200-1769) 15th-16th by an unknown artist in Nepal. It is made with a copper alloy with mercury gilding and measures 3 x 21/4 x1 1/2 in. (7.6×5.7×3.8cm). Though not much decoration is used the space is fully utilized. Another outstanding sculpture is that one of Attendant goddess made in malla period (1200-1769) the late 15th to 16th century.
It is curved from mercury guided copper alloy with turquoise, garnet and red glass copper alloy with gliding and colour. It measures 6 x 1½ x 4 x 31/8 in. (16.5×10.2×7.9cm).The sculpture is deeply aesthetic portraying deep Nepal-style artwork. The sculpture is adorned with fine surface decoration. The decorations in this sculpture go hand in hand with a good arrangement system of volume and space. Just as in Nepal where sculptures were almost purely meant for religious purposes in the case was replicated in Egypt. A notable difference between the Nepal and the Egyptian sculptures is that while those of Nepal were highly decorated by ornaments those of Egypt were highly flossed to produce a smooth shiny finish. The Egyptian sculptures depicted the limitless power of the pharaoh since most of them were made for the pharaoh or his wealthy government officials and they were displayed in temples which pharaoh built for their favorite goddess. The sculptures were taut, solemn and formal. Their aim was not to be realistic but to present a powerful figure. The big sculptures were constructed out of rock but the smaller ones made from slate and thus they could survive over time while the size of other structures helped them to survive.
The sculptures from the Nepal were mostly adorned with elements in addition to their fine finish of copper. They came in many designs and postures and were heavily jeweled and shiny the hair was in many cases plaited. They had to have a cloth curving around the private parts. On the other hand the Greek sculptures were natural and appeared without any exaggerations in terms of ornaments and the hair style. The sculptures did not hide the private parts of the sculpture in any way therefore the Greek carvings appeared more realistic than those from Nepal. Another difference is that Greek sculptures were proportional in size to the real man unlike the Nepal’s ones.
The earliest representations of Buddha were symbolic in nature for instance his birth was represented by a flowering lotus, the first sermon by a wheel, and enlightment by a bodhi tree. Signs formed an important part of Buddhism and thus sculpture well in line with this culture. Depictions of the Buddha himself and of scenes from his Life were rendered with varying degrees of realism in free-standing and relief sculptures and in mural and manuscript paintings, and a complex iconography developed.
The art of making sculptures formed an important part of a Buddha ad therefore the development of art was encouraged that resulted in exploitation of the talent. The end product was an amazing art work in Malla period.
(2004) Buddhist iconography; Terri Cota; USMTA Publishers.
(2008) Buddhist iconography and sculptures; Retrieved from Wikipedia.