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Yoga: The Art of Transformation
Religious Studies Review
Format: Journal Article
Publication Date: 2014/09//
Pages: p170 - 170
Sources ID: 112826
Visibility: Public (group default)
Abstract: (Show)
The catalog accompanying the art exhibition of the same name is the first of its kind to explore yoga's diverse histories and visual representation in Indian culture. The catalog is sumptuously illustrated and contains seven essays that provide a rich context for understanding what yoga meant to different practitioners in different religious, regional, and historical contexts. A key concept reflected in the essays and in the title of the exhibition itself is “transformation”—how yoga, as a practice, continues to transcend monolithic boundaries and definitions. In addition to the seven essays, the catalog offers rich, detailed entries on the art objects themselves. This information is organized in five thematic parts. Part 1 is titled The Path of Yoga and it examines over fifty objects produced in a variety of media. The objects feature representations of deities, divinized gurus, and other aspects related to yoga including the performance of austerities and meditation. Part 2 features painted folios that articulate the places and landscapes conducive to yogic practice: ashrams, maths, cremation grounds, and renowned sacred sites. Parts 3 and 4 of the catalog address the changing perceptions of yoga. The former examines yoga in the Indian imagination during the sixteenth through nineteenth centuries; the latter looks at its construction in the transnational imagination in the eighteenth through twentieth centuries. Objects in these two sections include painted folios from manuscripts and albums, colonial photography, and popular prints. The catalog concludes with a section titled Modern Transformations that focuses on visual imagery associated with leading proponents of yoga (such as Vivekananda and Yogendra), and illustrations and photographs found in medical yoga texts and books on modern postural yoga. As this catalog dismantles common stereotypes of yoga, it is a resource that will benefit both scholar and student. It is also one of the best catalogs to be published on South Asian art in recent years due to the high quality of its scholarship and the artworks selected.