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Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization

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A landmark work that demystifies the rich tradition of Indian art, Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization analyzes key motifs found in legend, myth, and folklore taken directly from the Sanskrit. It provides a comprehensive introduction to visual thinking and picture reading in Indian art and thought. Ultimately, the book shows that profound Hindu and Buddhist in A landmark work that demystifies the rich tradition of Indian art, Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization analyzes key motifs found in legend, myth, and folklore taken directly from the Sanskrit. It provides a comprehensive introduction to visual thinking and picture reading in Indian art and thought. Ultimately, the book shows that profound Hindu and Buddhist intuitions on the riddles of life and death are universally recognizable.


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A landmark work that demystifies the rich tradition of Indian art, Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization analyzes key motifs found in legend, myth, and folklore taken directly from the Sanskrit. It provides a comprehensive introduction to visual thinking and picture reading in Indian art and thought. Ultimately, the book shows that profound Hindu and Buddhist in A landmark work that demystifies the rich tradition of Indian art, Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization analyzes key motifs found in legend, myth, and folklore taken directly from the Sanskrit. It provides a comprehensive introduction to visual thinking and picture reading in Indian art and thought. Ultimately, the book shows that profound Hindu and Buddhist intuitions on the riddles of life and death are universally recognizable.

30 review for Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization

  1. 5 out of 5

    Riku Sayuj

    The most reverent, lyrical and aesthetically pleasing treatment of Indian thought that I have come across since The Discovery of India. Zimmer was a genius much ahead of his time.

  2. 5 out of 5

    sigurd

    una notte rabbi Eisik fece un sogno che gli ordinava di andare lontano, nella capitale boema, a Praga. Lì avrebbe scoperto un tesoro sepolto sotto il ponte principale che conduceva al castello dei re. Il rabbino cercò di trascurare il sogno, ma questi si ripresentò tre volte e allora si fece coraggio e partì in cammino per la città di Praga. Quando arrivò, il rabbino vide che sul ponte vi erano delle sentinelle e non osò scavare, ma rimase a studiare il modo per farlo. Sorpreso dalla sua ostinaz una notte rabbi Eisik fece un sogno che gli ordinava di andare lontano, nella capitale boema, a Praga. Lì avrebbe scoperto un tesoro sepolto sotto il ponte principale che conduceva al castello dei re. Il rabbino cercò di trascurare il sogno, ma questi si ripresentò tre volte e allora si fece coraggio e partì in cammino per la città di Praga. Quando arrivò, il rabbino vide che sul ponte vi erano delle sentinelle e non osò scavare, ma rimase a studiare il modo per farlo. Sorpreso dalla sua ostinazione, il capo delle guardie gli si avvicinò e gli chiese cosa ci facesse lì e se avesse perduto qualcosa, allora Eisik gli raccontò senza esitare il sogno. Il capo delle guardie si fece una grossa risata e disse: "davvero ti sei consumato le scarpe facendo tutta questa strada solo per un sogno? quale persona di senno darebbe retta a un sogno?". E continuò dicendo che anche lui aveva fatto un sogno, che gli diceva di fare un pellegrinaggio contrario al suo, nella direzione apposta, quella voce nel sogno gli aveva ordinato di andare a Cracovia a casa di un rabbino chiamato Eisik figlio di Jekel perché in un angolo sporco della sua casa, dietro una stufa, c'era una tesoro. Ma figuriamoci! andare a Cracovia per cercare Eisik figlio di Jekel lì dove metà popolazione ebrea si chiama Eisik o Jekel. E rise di cuore. Il rabbino ascoltò, ma senza dare a vedere, dopo aver ringraziato ritornò a casa sua, scavò in quell'angolo di casa sua dietro la stufa e trovò il tesoro che pose fine alla sua miseria. H.R.Zimmer racconta questa storia e ci dice che i veri tesori non sono lontani da noi. non bisogna cercarli lontano. giacciono sepolti nel recesso più segreto della nostra stessa casa. dietro la stufa, dietro quel centro che effonde luce e calore; ma c'è qualcosa in più in questa storia, spesso è solo dopo un viaggio che scopriamo per bocca di qualcuno a noi estraneo, di un paese lontano e straniero, quel qualcosa che non sapevamo di avere così vicino. the inner light, come diceva George Harrison, in quel celebre brano. http://youtu.be/eCYJVkR0C2U "...Più lontano si viaggia Meno si conosce Meno si conosce veramente Arriva senza viaggiare Vedi tutto senza guardare Fai tutto senza fare..."

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jigar Brahmbhatt

    I will let it all settle in; and revel in the mighty imagination of the folks who dared to envision the circularity of events and the multiple, disorienting manifestations of that which has ‘no other’. Dr. Zimmer, gifted with extraordinary neatness of words, and a scholar of remarkable depth, has my greatest regards.

  4. 5 out of 5

    ٩(๑`^´๑)۶

    Really by default, I was expecting this to be extremely dated orientalist garbage that I would nonetheless find to be an interesting work of scholarship in some regards. Instead, and aside from some exceedingly minor semantic allowances, it's a deeply genuine, passionate, well-researched, creative, and appropriately-but-not-slavishly reverent exploration of its subjects presented through startlingly strong prose. Really by default, I was expecting this to be extremely dated orientalist garbage that I would nonetheless find to be an interesting work of scholarship in some regards. Instead, and aside from some exceedingly minor semantic allowances, it's a deeply genuine, passionate, well-researched, creative, and appropriately-but-not-slavishly reverent exploration of its subjects presented through startlingly strong prose.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Patricia

    I've read this book several times (four or five at least) over the past years, and each time I walk away sated. The volume of essays was actually compiled/written by one of Zimmer's students, the famous Joseph Campbell, who spent nearly a decade collecting and publishing Zimmer's works posthumously. Zimmer himself was a refugee from Nazi Germany who ended up teaching in the US and passed away in the early 1940s. This isn't a history of Indian art, but articles about key aspects of Indian religion I've read this book several times (four or five at least) over the past years, and each time I walk away sated. The volume of essays was actually compiled/written by one of Zimmer's students, the famous Joseph Campbell, who spent nearly a decade collecting and publishing Zimmer's works posthumously. Zimmer himself was a refugee from Nazi Germany who ended up teaching in the US and passed away in the early 1940s. This isn't a history of Indian art, but articles about key aspects of Indian religion--the gods and their vehicles, lotus, elephants, the triad of Brahma, Siva and Vishnu, the wheel of rebirth, the Mother Goddess...inspired by the myths alone, although using some sculptures and art works as illustrations. (His apparent 'disinterest' in such forms later was the cause of most of the criticism of his work by later scholars. The great scholar of Indian temple architecture, Stella Kramrisch, noted for example that Zimmer had never even seen a Hindu temple.) But this isn't why one reads this volume. One reads it for the absolutely wondrous way Zimmer relates these classic myths of Hinduism. He is the consummate storyteller, as in the tale of the holy man Markandeya, who is described in a creation myth as "wandering inside the god, over the peaceful earth, as an aimless pilgrim, regarding with pleasure the edifying sight of the ideal vision of the world...[until] an accident occurs. In the course of his aimless, unending promenade, the sturdy old man slips, inadvertently out through the mouth of the all-containing god. Vishnu is sleeping with lips a little open; breathing with a deep, sonorous rhythmical sound, in the immense silence of the night of Brahma. And the astonished saint, falling from the sleeper's giant lip, plunges headlong into the cosmic sea." (p. 38) I can think of no better volume to begin with for those commencing a study of classical Indian art through its myths than this one. In their telling, they reveal the major teachings of Hinduism and each story's meaning as a component of the whole. As explained in the introduction, its "purpose is to fathom the major areas and problems, the dominant symbols and most significant features of the abundant world of Hindu myth". This it does admirably and is the reason why I keep returning.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Zach

    A book full of wonder. The retelling of the myths is detailed with restrained but illuminating analysis & interpretation. This book brings even more life to my readings of the Upanishads and the Bhagavadgita (et al). The descriptions of the plates and artifacts are animated and superbly effective. A must read for anyone curious about myths & symbols in Indian art and civilization. From the conclusion: "Now the real treasure, to end our misery and trials, is never far away; it is not to be sought A book full of wonder. The retelling of the myths is detailed with restrained but illuminating analysis & interpretation. This book brings even more life to my readings of the Upanishads and the Bhagavadgita (et al). The descriptions of the plates and artifacts are animated and superbly effective. A must read for anyone curious about myths & symbols in Indian art and civilization. From the conclusion: "Now the real treasure, to end our misery and trials, is never far away; it is not to be sought in any distant region; it lies buried in the innermost recess of our own home, that is to say, our own being. And it lies behind the stove, the life-and-warmth giving center of the structure of our existence, our heart of hearts -- if we could only dig." (Heinrich Zimmer) This book gives readers a plethora of tools to start digging.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kirtida Gautam

    Wow. Okay. The real treasure lies buried in the innermost recess of our own home. Reading Indian myths and symbols enriches my mind and soul, the way a healthy and nutritious meal enriches the body. A very good read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Aryanne

    The work is clear, concise and well-ordered. It really gives you a piece of the picture when it comes to the mentality of the people behind this beautiful art and symbolism.

  9. 4 out of 5

    David Melbie

    This book is awesome. I am always fascinated by India's rich spiritual heritage. They use some pretty grotesque symbols to convey certain concepts, and the art is sublime. A good read. This book is awesome. I am always fascinated by India's rich spiritual heritage. They use some pretty grotesque symbols to convey certain concepts, and the art is sublime. A good read.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    While not exactly the most exciting read you're likely to encounter, Zimmer's book on the complex mythology that underlies the art and architecture of India is a very valuable volume for those interested in better understanding Indian culture. So much of Indian art is religious in subject matter, trying to look at it without an understanding of the stories involved is like trying to understand Western religious art with no notion of who Jesus is. If anything, the situation is even more complicat While not exactly the most exciting read you're likely to encounter, Zimmer's book on the complex mythology that underlies the art and architecture of India is a very valuable volume for those interested in better understanding Indian culture. So much of Indian art is religious in subject matter, trying to look at it without an understanding of the stories involved is like trying to understand Western religious art with no notion of who Jesus is. If anything, the situation is even more complicated in Indian art, where the gods and goddesses change shape and form with frightening regularity. Vishnu is sometimes Shiva as well, and also turns into Krishna. And the Goddess manifests in innumerable forms. Even the Buddha, in some cases, is seen as an incarnation of Vishnu. Luckily, Zimmer is extremely helpful in sorting out how all these variant incarnations and avatars are related, and the visual forms they take. This is totally old school scholarship, and the book was assembled after Zimmer's death by colleague, based on lecture notes he left behind, so it is not direct or systematic like a text book. But for all that, an indispensable guide to a very complex culture.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Paritosh

    Insightful in interpreting the symbolism implicit in Indian mythological art and architecture. Understanding this symbolism is a step forward in refining our faith in the pantheon of Indian gods and goddesses.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Koz

    Buckle up, motherfucks.

  13. 4 out of 5

    laurentiu

    0

  14. 4 out of 5

    Brian Sullivan

    Anybook that attempts to translate Indian motif to the Western mind will be criticised by some of the subcontinent. Indian sysmbol is so diverse and expressive after all. As an overview this is a beautiful attempt for a non India to gain some grasp to build on if he ver seeks to submerge himself in the ocean of Indian thought.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Eibrajam

    Un libro introductorio al pensamiento hinduísta, escrito con una prosa que juega con el éxtasis de la poesía. Además de tener láminas y unas maravillosas interpretaciones de la inconografía, relata muchos de los mitos de los diversos textos hindúes mas no los aísla, sino que se atreve a compararlos con los mitos de las religiones de occidente. Por otro lado, la historia de la construcción del libro añade ciertos trazos dramáticos a su lectura: siendo conferencias que Heinrich Zimmer dio en Colum Un libro introductorio al pensamiento hinduísta, escrito con una prosa que juega con el éxtasis de la poesía. Además de tener láminas y unas maravillosas interpretaciones de la inconografía, relata muchos de los mitos de los diversos textos hindúes mas no los aísla, sino que se atreve a compararlos con los mitos de las religiones de occidente. Por otro lado, la historia de la construcción del libro añade ciertos trazos dramáticos a su lectura: siendo conferencias que Heinrich Zimmer dio en Columbia tras su emigración de Europa por causa de la persecución de su esposa (judía) durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial, el autor no tuvo oportunidad de compilar los textos, pues un día enfermó y a la semana murió súbitamente por una neumonía. Otro titán del estudio del Mito, Joseph Campbell, se encargó de revisar los textos de Zimmer para darle la forma final al océano de pensamientos. Dos cosas (además de las obvias) rescato de este texto: la transmisión de la pasión que siente Zimmer por el pensamiento de India y un proceso de transformación interna conforme uno avanza en la lectura, un proceso de transformación precipitado por un maravillarse más tirado a la imaginación y las concepciones religiosas que a la sorpresa de la razón. Sin duda, libro de cabecera.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Chaney Bicknell

    So far the take on Indian myth (from a person with a thoroughly Western background and perspective) is interesting and valuable. Indian myth is a weak area in my knowledge of world myth as a whole, and this book is a good introduction. Obsessively taking notes as I go, and only reading in my spare time lately, but I don't see myself putting this one down. So far the take on Indian myth (from a person with a thoroughly Western background and perspective) is interesting and valuable. Indian myth is a weak area in my knowledge of world myth as a whole, and this book is a good introduction. Obsessively taking notes as I go, and only reading in my spare time lately, but I don't see myself putting this one down.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Nikki

    Very interesting read. I enjoyed that the text was written by Zimmer but edited by Campbell. Since the study of Hinduism is completely new to me, there was a lot to take in with this text. However, I am fascinated by it all!! The only thing that I didn't like about the text is that the great images of the Indian art are small and in the back of the book and in black and white. Very interesting read. I enjoyed that the text was written by Zimmer but edited by Campbell. Since the study of Hinduism is completely new to me, there was a lot to take in with this text. However, I am fascinated by it all!! The only thing that I didn't like about the text is that the great images of the Indian art are small and in the back of the book and in black and white.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ross

    Brilliant and thought provoking. Offers stimulating interpretation of mythic iconography of varying kinds, while relating information in an easynto follow format. It's got pictures too, WOOT! Brilliant and thought provoking. Offers stimulating interpretation of mythic iconography of varying kinds, while relating information in an easynto follow format. It's got pictures too, WOOT!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Florin Buzdugan

    magistral

  20. 4 out of 5

    Horatiu

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Brown

  22. 5 out of 5

    Allie

  23. 4 out of 5

    Turtle Bite

  24. 4 out of 5

    John Parker

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ron

  26. 4 out of 5

    Feroz Dsilva

  27. 5 out of 5

    Trenton Judson

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rodrigo Ruiz

  29. 5 out of 5

    Juan Brines

  30. 4 out of 5

    Katie Daniels

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