BAMPFA has made the difficult but necessary decision to close the museum until further notice. Our art galleries and cafe will be inaccessible during this period, and our film screenings, tours, and public programs have been temporarily discontinued.
For millennia and throughout the world, secular and religious art has celebrated the power and beauty of women in representations of the female form. In art from South Asia and the Himalayan region, women are often depicted and appreciated within the context of Hindu and Buddhist traditions for their beauty, fecundity, wisdom, power, and compassion. This exhibition seeks to explore the feminine image and the female role in the great traditions within a particular region of Asia. The elegant representations of women as classical beauties can be seen in an early second- or third-century Gandharan sculpture of the goddess Tyche, who is closely associated with good luck. Later, within the Buddhist tradition, she becomes the deity Hariti, who with her consort Pancika are regarded as the model couple. The sweet face of a girl in Bust of a Young Woman, which was made at about the same time and within the same Gandharan tradition, underscores the mastery of the sculptor who brought to life the simple innocence of a girl lost in her own thoughts. Images of robust women both large and small represent South Asian ideals of beauty that emphasize the fecundity of their bodies. Within the Himalayan tradition the sensual is replaced with measured restraint and a contemplative appearance. The divine Tara is understood through her gracious gaze to embody a deep spiritual understanding and compassion. On the other hand, Prajnaparamita, shown with multiple arms and armor-like jewelry, exudes great power as the personification of wisdom.