Realms of Wonder: Jain, Hindu and Islamic Art from India

Elisabetta Marabotto of Saffronart announces the forthcoming exhibition “Realms of Wonder” at the Art Gallery of South Australia in Adelaide

detail: India, The divine cowherd Krishna playing on his flute, 18th century, Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, India, opaque watercolour and gold on paper, 28.6 x 24.2 cm; Morgan Thomas Bequest Fund 1940, Art Gallery of South Australia.

detail: India, The divine cowherd Krishna playing on his flute, 18th century, Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, India, opaque watercolour and gold on paper, 28.6 x 24.2 cm; Morgan Thomas Bequest Fund 1940, Art Gallery of South Australia. Image Credit:

London: For Indian art lovers in Australia, the Art Gallery of South Australia is hosting for the first time a major exhibition entirely dedicated to the arts of India inspired by the three great spiritual traditions: Jainism, Hinduism and Islam.

More than two hundred paintings, sculptures and other works of art dating from the 8th century to present day will be on display. Most of the works have never been exhibited before and it is also the first time that Jain art is exhibited so extensively in Australia.

The exhibition opens on October 19 until January 27. For more information click here and stay tuned for more details.



Yoga: The Art of Transformation

Elisabetta Marabotto of Saffronart shares a note on the forthcoming exhibition at the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington

London: The Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery will be hosting from October 19th, the first exhibition entirely dedicated to the art of yoga, perhaps one of the most popular practices at the moment.

Yoga: The Art of Transformation. Image Credit:

Yoga: The Art of Transformation. Image Credit:

The exhibition visually traces the history of yoga from its beginning to its modern practice. More than 120 artworks including sculptures, paintings, photographs and films shed light on the obscure history and tenets of yoga and its masters. The show attests the diffusion of yoga between the Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Sufi faiths and their shared goal of transforming the body and mind through the yogic practice.

The works on display which date from the 3rd to the early 20th century are categorized in four sections explicating the different stages of the history of yoga: Tantra, The Path of Yoga, Yoga in the Indian Imagination 1570-1830 and Modern Transformations.

Among the highlights are 10 folios from the first illustrated anthology of asanas (yogic poses), the movie “Hindoo Fakir” directed by Thomas Edison in 1906 and 3 statues of Yogini from a 10th century Chola temple.  The works showing in the exhibit were borrowed from 25 museums and private collections based in India, Europe and the United States.

You can enjoy below a sneak peek of some of the exhibition’s highlights:

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Make a note on your diary that the exhibition will be on from the 19th of October 2013 until 26th of January 2014. I am looking forward to it!

To learn more about Yoga: The Art of Transformation, visit the Smithsonian website and read here.

The Jina Parsvanatha Sculpture: A Study in Symbolism

Josheen Oberoi briefly explores the signs and meanings embedded in ancient Indian Jina sculptures

New York: Jainism, one of the oldest faiths in India, is defined by its commitment to non-violence and a self-directed effort to attain enlightenment. The ‘Supreme Beings’ who achieve this state of liberation and assist others in the process are called Jinas (victors) or Tirthankaras. There are said to have been twenty four Jinas in Jainism, the last of whom, Vardhamana Mahavira, is possibly the most widely known among non practitioners of Jainism.

However, when it comes to the arts and representation in Jainism there is a rich history of sculptures of many of the Jinas, replete with symbolism relating to their positions, accompanying objects, and their meaning.

Jina Parsvanatha
Object: Sculpture
Place of origin: Garsoppa, India (probably, made)
Date: 12th century (made)
Materials and Techniques: Black shale
Museum number: 931(IS)
Image courtesy: Victoria and Albert Museum

Two similar sculptures from different time periods are wonderful examples of Jina Parsvanathas and their symbolism. This beautiful 12th century sculpture (on the left) from the Victoria and Albert Museum collection in London represents the twenty third Jina Parsvanatha, who is revered as a great teacher and is one of four Jinas most often portrayed in Jain art. A similar sculpture in the ongoing Indian Antiquities auction conducted by Collectibles Antiques India and powered by Saffronart is from the 11th century, created during the rule of the Hoysala Dynasty. It is a distinctive work from a time period rarely seen in private hands; most works from this Dynasty are in museums or preserved at heritage sites.

Parsvanatha lived in the 8th century BC. He was the son of King Ashvasena and Queen Vamanadevi of Varanasi who renounced the world at the age of thirty to become an ascetic. He attained absolute knowledge and became the twenty-third Tirthankara or Jina in Jainism and is associated with the color blue and a seven hooded serpent.

The Jina fact file on the Victoria & Albert Museum website allows us as viewers to read the sculpture as well. Jinas are always shown in either a padmasana (seated) or kayotsarga (standing) position. The two Jina Parsvanathas in discussion here are standing; the immobility and discipline required is considered a form of severe penance and asceticism.

Jina Parsvanatha
Greenish Schist
11th Century
Hoysala Dynasty
Height: 51 in (129.5 cm)
Image courtesy: Saffronart Indian Antiquities Auction (Nov 28-29, 2012), Lot 3

The three tiered umbrella at the top of the sculpture is a symbol of the Jina’s spiritual sovereignty, while the seven headed snake, Dharanendra, protects the Jina with his coils and a canopy over his head. Jinas, like those in these two sculptures, are the only Jain figures shown unclothed as a sign of their absolute enlightenment and rejection of all materialism. They are often flanked by guardian spirits called yakshas and yakshis, positioned in these sculptures by the feet of the Jina.

The strength of the physical body and the powerful features in the sculpture above is distinctive of the Hoysala Dynasty, which oversaw great developments in architecture and classically modeled sculptures during its rule.

You can hear some interesting ideas about the importance of the seven hooded serpent and the significance of the standing position in context of the Jina Parsvanatha in the collection of the V&A Museum here.

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