The collection of South Asian art at the Carlos reflects major religious cultures still thriving in the world today. Hinduism and Buddhism are the fourth- and fifth-largest religious faiths in the world. Ancient roots of these faiths can be traced through objects in the Asian Gallery dating from the 1st to the 17th centuries, and many devotional works would be extremely familiar to contemporary practitioners.
Featured works include a 14th-century gilded bronze statue from Tibet that represents Buddha Shakyamuni, the “Great One of the Sakya clan,” seated on a throne of lotus petals at the moment of his awakening. Indian Buddhism is represented by a majestic late 2nd-century sandstone Buddha from Mathura, one of the most important such works in an American museum, and a remarkable black stone Pala Buddha from the 10th century.
The richness of the Hindu religious imagination can be seen in an 11th-century sculpture of Vishnu resting on the cosmic ocean, dreaming the world between the cycles of time as his consort Lakshmi presses his feet, and in the image of the goddess Durga destroying illusion in the form of Mahisha the buffalo-demon.
In recent years, the museum has begun to build a collection of miniature paintings of scenes from great Indian epic, the Ramanyana, and of the avatars of Vishnu.
A 10th-century bronze altar representing the Jina Rishabhanatha enshrined offers eloquent testimony to the third great Indian religious tradition, Jainism.
Thanks to the generous financial support of the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, the Carlos is pleased to present Odyssey Online: South Asia, a web-based resource for upper elementary, middle, and high-school students that uses engaging interactive technology to explore Hindu and Buddhist works in the museum's collection in depth, and to provide an understanding of the ways in which similar objects function in religious contexts in South Asia and here in Atlanta.