Friday, January 13, 2017

Hindu art in the museum versus real Hindu life

By Vamsee Juluri
"Hanuman Conversing" Chola period (880–1279). Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Hanuman, the “monkey grammarian” of Octavio Paz’s book by the same name, stands beautifully in the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco. When I picture Hanuman, it is often in depictions of his physical prowess and accomplishment, in flight usually, with the mountain on his palm. But then, we might ask the question that critics of colonialism and cultural appropriation have asked many times before. It is art, sure, but is it just art? The danger of the museum discourse is that it is not inaccurate. It is inadequate. Outside, in the museum bookstore, you see more of the same, the highly learned and credentialed academic books on Hinduism and South Asia, the same old coloniser’s gaze, now recast into a mercenary subaltern premise. [link]