A constellation of yogas

So many yogas, so little time…  and so few words.  In my WSJ review of Yoga: The Art of Transformation at the Smithsonian’s Sackler, I did not have the space to single out an 8th-century ivory carving from Kashmir.  Less than five inches tall, it draws you into the story of the Buddha as he adopts,  then rejects ascetic yogic practices.  IMAG0171The central figure shows him so emaciated his rib cage and hip bones protrude while, amid the many figures clamoring for his attention, we spot two long-haired yogis.  IMAG0184On the left, a tiny curled up Buddha seems imprisoned by hunger.  On the right, he sits up and looks ready to step into the world as he  accepts an offering of food.

Great storytelling and amazing carving.

IMAG0178And then there is the Shiva Bhairava from 13th century Mysore —  his face is approachable enough despite the two tiny fangs.  But the skull hovering nearby speaks of fierce, raw power.

Also, don’t miss  “Strange and Wondrous: Prints of India from the Robert J. Del Bontà Collection,”  where many of the works complement nicely  the  section on yogis in the European imagination.

Finally, a piece I did get to mention and that stands out as one of my favorites — this most beautiful and energetic 11th-century yogini:IMAG0163

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