Author: Ulrich von Schroeder
This book, the result of a sixteen year study of Buddhist art, is the first full-length publication concerning the stylistic evolution of the image casting traditions of northern India, the Himalayas and Tibet, as well as those of China during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. The original intention of this publication was a general study of Tibetan art, which was requested by an art book publisher in 1977. Naturally, for a comprehensive study of Tibetan art, consideration also had to be given to the artistic traditions of all cultures surrounding Tibet, which could possibly have served as stylistic sources. While working through all accessible art-historically related source materials, including earlier publications on Tibetan culture as well as those of the adjacent cultures, it became increasingly clear that it was impossible to satisfactorily reconstruct the evolution of Tibetan art since the inter-related traditions of northern India and the Himalayas, as well as China, were still insufficiently documented and published. Taking these circumstances into consideration, it became obvious that any further publication on Tibetan art would only serve to compound the existing confusion with additional imprecise references and subjective conjectures â€“ an altogether very unsatisfactory prospect. The only solution remaining was to broaden the scope of the book by including beside Tibet all the surrounding cultures, which could have possibly served as stylistic sources. A monograph on bronzes was the only means by which these different cultures could be inter-related since other art forms such as stone sculpture rarely occurred in Tibet and only very few paintings from the classical periods of northern India have survived, thus either subject hardly presented a basis for a comparative study.