On Some Iconographical Typologies Representing the Bodhi Tree in the Stelae of the Pāla Period
Zurlo, Annunziata (2003) On Some Iconographical Typologies Representing the Bodhi Tree in the Stelae of the Pāla Period. Annali dell’Università degli studi di Napoli “L’Orientale”. Rivista del Dipartimento di Studi Asiatici e del Dipartimento di Studi e Ricerche su Africa e Paesi Arabi, 2003 (63). pp. 121-138. ISSN 0393-3180
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In this study the author intends to show, through the analysis of some iconographic elements present in a large number of sculptures, that the representation of the tree, as it appears on the Pāla stelae representing the Māravijana, is not merely a feature placed on the top of the stela to indicate the place of the Enlightenment, nor a lingering trace of a glorious cult which has disappeared due to the degradation of religious practiced among the Pālas. The tree is placed at the centre of the stela along an axis which, according to Tantric physiology, is considered to be the most important part of the body. It becomes the fulcrum, together with the image of the Buddha, of the stela itself and thus of the process of visualization. This hypothesis is based upon a study of the different forms representing the tree, of which the author has identified five main typologies.
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