Author: Heinrich Zimmer
Editor(s): Joseph Campbell
Publisher: Motilal Banarsidass
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8120816307
This two-volume work, a unique product of scholarship and photography, presents a view of Indian art that is believed to be most comprehensive ever undertaken. Its text colume approaches the subject in close detail and in a rapidly moving and entertaining form of exposition.
The present work is intended not as a handbook but as an introduction to its subject, to be read from beginning to end. Each section is preparation for the next. Chapter I, presenting as it does a brief historical outline of the transformations of Indian art as well as a key to the symbology of the forms, can be used as a guide during the first perusal of the pictures. For the reader then wishing to find quickly the several portions of text referring to any specific group of monuments, a copious index has been supplied, together with textual references in the Description of Plates and cross-references in the footnotes. Marginal references to the Plates, furthermore, accompany the text. These should make possible an easy and rapid correlation of the materials of the two volumes.
The first two groups of Plates in the text volume illustrate, for the most part, the anthropological and comparative observations of the text. Included among them, however, are a few photographs that are indispensable to Dr. Zimmer's argument but do not meet the aesthetic standard of the Plates volume. On the other hand, the final cluster of text Plates constitutes an independent pictorial appendix, illustrating the miniature and Rajput art of the eleventh to nineteenth centuries A.D. Dr. Zimmer's notes on this subjuect had not been developed beyond preliminary jottings, and could not be incorporated in any major section of the text. But since there is actually a rather special, very delicate, lyric quality about these paintings on palm leaf and paper, which sets them apart, somewhat, from the tradition of the stone monuments, it is not inappropriate that they should be given a separate place.