Sep 6, 2007

The Paranirvana of Buddha, Gal Vihara, Polonnaruva, Ceylon

The Paranirvana of Buddha, Gal Vihara, Polonnaruva, Ceylon

1870–71

Joseph Lawton

(British, d. 1874)

Albumen print

Image: 21.4 x 28.2 cm (8 7/16 x 11 1/8 in.); Matted: 35.6 x 45.7 cm (14 x 18 in.)

Gift of Louise S. Richards 1976.156

Exhibition

Text and Image in Southern Asia​ (Indian Painting and Himalayan rotation)

Description

During the British colonial period in Sri Lanka (Ceylon), a 12th-century monastic establishment with a colossal stone sculpture of the reclining Buddha had fallen into ruins. The photographer’s intentional inclusion of a Sri Lankan man, leaning against a pillar at the front of the composition, and a colonial Englishman, clambering over Buddha’s body, underscores how differently they interact with the site. The Sri Lankan visitor views the ruins with devotional reverence; the Englishman treats it as a place of adventurous entertainment.

See also
Department: 
Photography
Type of artwork: 
Photograph
Medium: 
Albumen print

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