Among the earliest works on the canons of Indian art, the Citralaksana of Nagnajit is presented here for the first time in an English translation.
Written in Sanskrit probably in the Gupta period, lost to Sanskritists for nearly a thousand years, known to Tibetans from the medieval times, and translated into German in the early years of the last century, here is a work of great antiquity and significance. The work is to be carefully distinguished from the Citralaksana chapter in the sixteenth century text of Sri Kumara's Silparatna from which it is separated by close to a millennium. It is a text of considerable importance not only for the understanding of the early art of India but also for that of other countries in Asia including Tibet, Mongolia and even China. In addition to dealing with Chitravidya and its origins, it affords a fascinating glimpse into the minds of the theoreticians and artists of the past, with its elaborate details of iconometry, and its emphasis on the all-subduing figure of the Cakravartin, the wheel-turning Master.
The work as now published contains the English rendering of Citralaksana based on Berthold Laufer's German translation, the complete Tibetan text (upon which the German translation was based) and also, in their entirety, Berthold Laufer's learned introduction and annotations as translated from German. Berthold Laufer (1874-1934) was a celebrated German anthropologist and orientalist.
B.N. Goswamy, Professor Emeritus, Panjab University, Chandigarh is an art critic and art historian. He is best known for his scholarship on Pahari and Indian miniature paintings. He is the author of over twenty books on arts and culture. The Government of India awarded him the Padma Bhushan in 2008. He was also a visiting professor at the universities of California, Pennsylvania and Heidelberg.
Anna L. Dallapiccola is a former Professor of Indian Art History at the University of Heidelberg. Among her many publications are Sculpture at Vijayanagara: Iconography and Style with An ila Verghese; King, Court and Capital: An Anthology of Kannada Literary Sources from the Vijayanagara Capital with C.T.M. Kotraiah and The Great Platform at Vijayanagara: Architecture & Sculpture. All three volumes appeared in the Vijayanagara Research Project Monograph Series issued by Manohar.
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