Ceylon, Ilangai, Lanka, Lakdiva, Seilan, Serendib, Simhaladvipa, Tambapanni, Taprobane-the island’s various names suggest that Sri Lanka has clearly meant different things to different people, and external contacts have been central to its history and conceptualization. Expanding and going beyond the standard Sinhala-Buddhist narratives, the essays in this volume look at resident communities and their contesting cultures and claims to the artistic heritages of this island.
At times approaching the island from the outside, at other times considering it from the inside, the writers locate the country’s identity in a dialectic between national traditions and transnational histories. An extensive introduction places these new essays within the historiography of Sri Lankan art that began with Ananda K. Coomaraswamy. Though there remains much to explore and many new voices to listen to, this volume is a welcome first step in rethinking the art histories of the island.
Contents: 1. In Search of National Traditions: Mapping Sri Lanka’s Art Histories/Sujatha Arundathi Meegama. 2. Wherefore Does the Earth Quake? Artistic Exchange and the Construction of Buddhist Homelands in Andhra and Sri Lanka/Catherine Becker. 3. Beyond the Politics of Conquest: Brahmanical Iconography in Polonnaruva/R. Mahalakshmi. 4. Political Boundaries or Cultural Zones? Recontextualizing the Iconography of Post-Polonnaruva Buddha Images/Packiyanathan Ahilan. 5. Albrecht Durer in Sri Lanka: A 16th-Century Ivory-Carver’s Encounter with a European Print/Sujatha Arundathi Meegama. 6. Visualizing the Sinhala Buddhist Nation: The Temple Murals of Sarlis Master/T. Sanathanan. 7. Sea Change: George Keyt’s Murals at Gotami Vihara, 1939–40/Sonal Khullar. 8. This Island: The Idea of Landscape in Contemporary Sri Lankan Art/Sharmini Pereira.