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By Dietrich Seckel

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The Indonesian works, however, surpass expression and form. Even relatively late post-classical speci- date, such as those at Elura them in delicacy of mens, such as the well-known figure of Prajnaparamita, humanity about them that is generous, true to life, and now in Leyden, have a yet austere, noble majestic, although the details are treated with a certain dryness. and Thus works of charm appeared even after the flowering period, in the so-called eastern Javanese period, and occasionally up to 1300 or thereabouts.

The combination of refinement and humanity with sublime spirituality, of delicate partly modelling with austere monumentality, gave it a wide appeal. Some other works of Ceylonese monumental sculpture have a primordial grandeur: for example, the scene showing the death of the Buddha, carved in the rock at Polonnaruwa during the 12th century. The recumbent figure of the Buddha entering the state of nirvana measures 14 metres in length; his disciple Ananda is depicted standing beside him in mourning, wearing an expression of dignified composure.

For Alexandria was a centre of this technique, since it had plentiful supplies of gypsum but was short of stone, and from Alexandria knowledge of it spread to other parts of the world. But it is also possible that the stucco technique used for decoration in Gandharan architecture may have been adopted — possibly at the same time — from Iran, where there was a long tradition of such work. In any case this area must have exerted considerable influence upon Gandharan art generally, especially after the Sassanid conquest of Taxila (241) All these questions need further study.

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The Art of Buddhism by Dietrich Seckel

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