Beginning with a few aniconic symbols, like
footprints, the Bo tree or stupas, in the pre-christian Indian art,
Buddhism, over the centuries, came to evolve a bewildering array of deities - in
ever-increasing number of pantheons. Interestingly, in Buddhism today, there are
perhaps as many pantheons as there are countries, or internal regions or sects
Chou Fo P'u-sa sheng Hsiang Tsan, in focus here, is one these many
Buddhist pantheons and acknowledgedly the 'culmination of Lamaist art'. Authored
by Rol. pahi.rdo.rje, alias Lalitavajra, (1717-1786): an imperial
preceptor of Emperor Ch'ien-lung (1736-1795), it is a rare set of 360
wood-cuts/xylographs, representing varying forms and manifestations of the
Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, tantric and tutelary deities, arhats, sages,
teachers, dharmapalas and protective divinities. It is also accompanied
by 360 'eulogies' in Chinese.
Two internationally distinguished scholars here team up to present afresh the
Chou Fo p'u-sa Sheng Hsiang Tsan, aptly called 'a unique pantheon'.
Drawing together all the 360 wood-cut images in their vividly enlarged/enhanced
versions - without compromising their aesthetic integrity, the book not only
captures their subtle iconic devices, but spells out as well, in meticulous
detail, all their iconic attributes, like body postures, faces, arms/hands, mudras,
asanas, vahanas, companions, and whether clam or wrathful. The book also
incorporates the names of each deity/deity-form in Sanskrit, Manchu, Mongolian,
Tibetan, and Chinese.
Unveiling for the first time, the images of a veritably unique pantheon, in
their enlarged format, and their accompanying Chinese eulogies, the book is
bound to fascinate anyone concerned with Buddhist art and iconography.
About the Author:
Prof. Lokesh Chandra is a renowned scholar of Tibetan, Mongolian and
Sino-Japanese Buddhism. He has to his credit over 360 works and text editions.
Among them are classics like Tibetan-Sanskrit Dictionary; Materials for a
History of Tibetan Literature; Buddhist Iconography of Tibet; and his
ongoing Dictionary of Buddhist Iconography (about 20 volumes). He was
nominated by the President of the Republic of India to the Parliament in 1974-80
and again in 1980-86. He has been Vice-President of the Indian Council for
Cultural Relations and Chairman of the Indian Council of Historical Research.
Presently he is Director, International Academy of Indian Culture.
Fredrick W. Bunce, a Ph.D. (Comparative Arts) from the Ohio University
Athens, Ohio, USA, is a cultural historian of international repute. Now
Professor Emeritus of Art, Indiana State University, Terre Haute, Indiana, he
has lectured at learned forums and published on a variety of art-related themes.
And has held many galleries, art museums and universities; besides his
participation in the artist's guild/faculty/other ventures of the kind.
A scholar with varied intellectual/research concerns - notwithstanding his
specializations in iconography, particularly Oriental and Buddhist Arts,
Professor Bunce has been legitimately honoured with certain notable awards/
commendations. Among his published books are: Encyclopaedia of Buddhist
Deities (2 vols.); Encyclopaedia of Hindu Deities (3 vols.); Dictionary
of Buddhist and Hindu Iconography; and Yantra of Deities and their
Numerological Foundations, all published by D.K. Printworld.
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