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Articles by Dr. Pratapaditya Pal

An internationally known scholar of the arts and culture of the Himalayas as well as South and Southeast Asia, Dr. Pratapaditya Pal is a prolific writer with over sixty published books, monographs and catalogues. He has been associated with many museums and universities in the States for over four decades as curator and teacher respectively. For eighteen years he was the general editor of Marg publications, including the eponymous magazine, published from Mumbai.
 
Indian Art “Auditions” in Hollywood
…My initial encounter with Hollywood occurred on my first visit to Los Angeles in the summer of 1964: I must admit the tiled star-studded stretch of Hollywood Boulevard and the Grauman's Chinese Theatre (as it was then known), were not what I expected of Tinseltown. There really was no arcadian, territorial Hollywood; only a state of mind. In any event on that initial visit, as I did walk the walk of fame on Hollywood Boulevard, I never dreamt that I would one day work in the neighborhood or meet any real movie stars.
Published: May 11, 2017
 
Revisiting a Kashmiri-Style Buddhist Image of Vajrasatva with Consort
This exquisitely rendered sculpture debuted in the seventies of the last century when it was included in the exhibition of the renowned Pan-Asian collection formed by the prodigious collector of Asian art, Christian Humann. It is a pleasure to revisit the object almost half a century later, as it has remained not only an intriguing and rare representation of Vajrayana Buddhist deities but, with a great deal of material from Kashmir and the contiguous regions in Western Tibet published since, it is now possible to throw more light on its origin and iconography.
Published: September 19, 2016
 
The Splendor of Wall Paintings in Bundi: A Review Article of The Bundi Wall – Paintings in Rajasthan (Rediscovered Treasures)
What is striking about the murals at Bundi and other palaces of the period is that they are merely larger versions of the portable pictures, mostly on paper, that were also produced at court simultaneously. Often the wall paintings are one gigantic assemblage of a group of smaller and complete pictorial compositions, each of which, if cut out from the plaster and affixed to paper, would become a complete picture in its own right.
Published: January 26, 2016
 
Some Hindu and Buddhist Bronzes from Bangladesh
Prior to the departure of the British from the Indian subcontinent in 1947, leaving behind two sovereign states – India and Pakistan – the history of Indian art was relatively easy to study as it was not coloured by issues of nationalism. After 1971 when East Pakistan declared independence and transformed itself into Bangladesh the task of the art historian became more complicated. Works of art which could once be attributed to Bengal now had to be assigned to either West Bengal or Bangladesh to establish their precise geographical origin.
Published: July 15, 2015
 
Roshan Sabavala’s Tryst with Himalayan Art
Considering the lively scene for collecting Indian art among the wealthy members of Bombay’s Parsi community, that Roshan Sabavala too would be tempted to dip into this rich resource is not surprising. Moreover, she was also familiar with the vast collection of the Tata brothers – Sir Dorab (1859–1932) and Sir Ratan (1871–1918) – that had become the treasures of the local museum then known as the Prince of Wales Museum of Western India and now renamed Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS).
Published: December 09, 2014
 
The Last of the Mohicans: Remembering Robert Ellsworth (1929–2014)
Born in 1929, the year of The Great Crash, Robert H. Ellsworth died recently in New York – by his own description ‘the token pauper of 960.’ In case the reader is unaware, 960 is the number of the building on Fifth Avenue, where he occupied a 20-room apartment: it is supposed to be the third most desirable address in New York, only a block or two from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Not bad for a child brought up in the depression era.
Published: September 17, 2014
 
An early Tibetan mandala of Ekallavira Achala in a private collection: An Art Historical Analysis
The history of portable Tibetan painting can now be confidently pushed back to the eleventh century. Buddhism was officially introduced to the country under the great ruler Song-tsen Gampo (r. 609-649) of the Yarlung dynasty and one can form a good idea of the architecture and sculpture of this early historical period; but significant evidence for Tibetan painting of any kind, cannot be traced back much earlier than the tenth century.
Published: September 09, 2013
 
The Rise and Fall of the Hindu God of War: A Review article
The Rise of Mahāsena: The Transformation of Skanda-Kārttikeya in North India from the Kusāna to Gupta Empires, by Richard T. Mann (Brill: Leiden. Boston 2012. pp. XIV and 282. Figs 43), is a study of the early history or development and decline of the god of war in the Brahmanical/ Hindu pantheon.
Published: August 01, 2012
 
A Painted Book Cover from Ancient Kashmir
The history of architecture and sculpture from Kashmir’s pre-Islamic past (1st c. BCE – 1300 CE) is well-apprised but nothing is known about painting. No example of pictorial art has yet come to light in the Valley of Kashmir. The purpose of this article is to discuss a painted panel in wood that was introduced in the recent exhibition of the arts of Kashmir. This painted panel is the only known object of its type that can be clearly traced to Kashmir itself and the artists there.
Published: December 22, 2008
 

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