The remains of what must have been a jewel of a Buddhist monastery, perched high on a granite massif, have been found at Phanigiri, 150 km from Hyderabad. The main construction and artifacts date between the 2nd to 4th centuries AD—a decisive period when Buddhism was sharing space with a rising number of organized sects. Prof. Ahuja will take the audience through the astounding quality of the sculpture at Phanigiri and focus on one piece in particular: a stele that shows Siddhartha sacrificing his turban, the mark of his inheritance. This narrative forms one of the key moments in Buddhist art. It has also been used as a metaphor in contemporary curatorial narratives on repatriation and heritage management.
Naman P. Ahuja is a curator and Professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, specializing in art history. His studies on ancient terracottas and small everyday objects examine the foundations of Indian visual aesthetics. His publications and curatorial projects—The Body in Indian Art & Thought, The Making of the Modern Indian Artist Craftsman, Gandhara: A Confluence of Cultures, and India & the World, to name a few—have drawn attention to Indian iconography, transculturalism in antiquity and the historiography of the Arts and Crafts Movement.
Moderator: Jinah Kim, George P. Bickford Professor of Indian and South Asian Art, Department of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University.