Smithsonian to showcase visual history of yoga

Washington, May 15 (IANS) Smithsonian, the world’s largest museum and research complex here, is launching a major crowdfunding campaign May 29 to support what it calls the world’s first exhibition on the visual history of


“Yoga: The Art of Transformation” Opens Oct 19 at its Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington and would be on view through Jan 26, 2014. It will be supported by a crowdfunding campaign, “Together We’re One” running from May

29 through July 1.

The exhibition explores “yoga’s philosophies and its goals of transforming body and consciousness, its importance within multiple religious and secular arenas, and the varied roles that yogis played in society, from sages to

spies,” Smithsonian said.

Exhibition curator Debra Diamond worked with an interdisciplinary team of scholars to compile a remarkable survey of Indian art, with more than 130 objects from 25 museums and private collections in India, Europe and the US.

“These works of art allow us to trace, often for the first time, yoga’s meanings across the diverse social landscapes of India,” said Diamond, curator of South Asian art at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and Freer Gallery of Art.

Renowned masterpieces of painting and sculpture, as well as popular images, weave parallel stories of yoga as an individual path and as a cultural force, both in India and abroad.

The exhibition features 90 stone and bronze sculptures, richly illustrated manuscripts and lavish court paintings created from the third to the early 19th century.

Later 19th- and early 20th-century materials -including photographs, missionary postcards, magic posters, medical illustrations, iconographic manuals and early films – chart the vilification of yoga in the colonial period and the subsequent emergence of the modern discipline in India.

Exhibition highlights include an installation that reunites for the first time three monumental stone yogini goddesses from a 10th century south Indian temple, 10 folios from the first illustrated compilation of asanas (yogic postures) made for a Mughal emperor in 1602 and never before exhibited in the US and a Thomas Edison film, Hindoo Fakir (1906), the first movie produced about India.

Following its Washington, DC, debut, “The Art of Transformation” will travel to the San Francisco Asian Art Museum (Feb 21-May 25, 2014) and the Cleveland Museum of Art (June 22-Sep 7, 2014).

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])

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