The earliest collectors of the Buddhist art of Kashmir, besides the Kashmiris themselves, were the Western Himalayan courts and monasteries on Kashmir’s eastern borders. In Himalayan hands, the Kashmiri art collections inspired new art made in their likenesses. Collecting Paradise charts the journey of the art brought from Kashmir to the Western Himalayas between the eighth and sixteenth centuries, and then in the twentieth century, of Kashmiri art of the Western Himalayas brought to the West.
This catalog and accompanying exhibition provide a double-stranded narrative of the desire to possess the art of another. The dominant strand traces the enduring impact of sophisticated Kashmiri art on its neighbors in the Western Himalayas, who longed to make it their own. The other strand follows two Westerners—the Italian scholar Giuseppe Tucci and the American zoologist Walter Koelz—who admired and set out to acquire for themselves objects representing Kashmiri art. Together, they had a major impact on the collecting of Western Himalayan art in the West that is still felt today. This essay offers opportunities to consider the collecting of sacred objects by Buddhists as compared to the modern assembling of such objects by art collectors, using Kashmir and the art it inspired as case studies.
By Rob Linrothe
With essays by Melissa R. Kerin and Christian Luczanits
Published: Rubin Museum of Art, New York (December 2014)
Format: HC, 236 pages
Product Dimensions: 9.25 x 12.25 x 1.2 inches