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Women in Buddhist Art
By: Vinay Kumar Rao

Women in Buddhist Art


 
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The over-arching period of the 2nd century BC to 3rd century AD witnessed the development of Buddhism in India. The period is well known for the growth and development of Buddhist art and architecture and one is able to get a glimpse of contemporary society going through these art forms. Women are an integral part of a society and the position and role of women is a pre-requisite to define the humbleness and harmony of any society. No society can be regarded as civilized and cultured in true sense without acknowledging the status and dignity of women. The archaeological and literary sources have manifested women in various roles since ancient times and are very magnificently projected in early Buddhist sculptural art. The presence of women in Buddhist sculptural do not only implies the cultural manifestations but also highlights the socio-economic role of women in that particular space and time. There are a plethora of inscriptions and sculptural representations that appear in early Buddhist period, which indicate active involvement of women in socio-religious affairs. This changed attitude of society towards women after the advent of Buddhism is very clearly reflected in early Buddhist sculptural art. By going through the detailed depictions of various religious and secular narratives we can observe women in early Buddhist sculptural art in various dimensions. This is also very well affirmed by inscriptions carved on various parts of Buddhist monuments.

This book, with the help of literary and epigraphically sources, intends to present the contemporary diversified and multifarious role of women in early Buddhist sculptural art. In order to authenticate the study, the author has collected source material from various museums and extensively travelled to various Buddhist monuments.

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