Examining the Effectiveness of Secret Service Training Abstract United States Secret Service special agents are charged with the primary responsibility of protecting elected officials.
Can this example of the Sun God help us to explain why for hundreds of years Gandhara artists were able to produce Greco-Roman ideals of the female body without Indian artists ever adopting, or even experimenting with this challenge to their established iconography. Does Gandharan art fail to influence India because the two are trying to represent radically different things? Gandhara artists represent far more often actual women (lay donors, nuns, female figures from Jataka stories, Maya) while Indian artists are usually representing not a particular woman but an image intended to represent women in general, and often fertility or divine femininity in particular. (Ajanta could be seen as an exception to that but even there particular women are rarely differentiated). The 'Indian' ideal is certainly found in Gandhara (Cribb & Errington, 1992:110-11) though this may be an example of divergent local trends rather than Gandharan adoption of external ideas. And plenty of Gandharan influence is found in Indian sculpture. Yet India remains (even in the border regions of the Kushan empire) remarkably resistant to alternative ideals of beauty and the form which evolved from early fertility in the Mauryan period remains a homogenous single ideal.
In the Kushan period the majority of evidence comes from Mathura, both from the Jain site of Kankali Tila, and from Buddhist sites in the city. There are also images from Ahichhhatra to the north-east and the northern-most example of the Indian style Sanghol. All of these sites shared a common set of proportions. The face was round (rather than oval) in shape. Not as round as the faces at Nagurjunikonda, but noticeably more so than in contemporary Gandharan images. The eyes were placed two-thirds of the way up the face (an interesting position, because it is unnatural and shows that the artists were not working from life models, but from an ideal). Using the head as a measure, the bottom of the breasts were placed one heads height below the chin. The top of the girdle was placed one heads length beneath that, and the whole figure stood seven heads high. The crotch was placed midway between the top and bottom of the figure. These basic proportions are obeyed throughout the formal sculptures of Mathure, regardless of whether they are Jain or Buddhist. In addition the female figures assume a particular posture called the tribangha or 'pose of the three bends'., bent at the hips, waist, and breasts (sometimes with the head cocked), to provide an S like shape.
Proportions are central to a formally trained artists view of the body. They serve to standardize, break-up and simplify an image, ultimately reuniting it in the artists representation what is almost an infinite variety of 'real' body forms. In other words, they are a conceptual tool, that prevents an artist from being overwhelmed by the variety of choices but does so at the expense of stifling innovation. Later Indian texts on art make it explicit that formal schools of art (such as are presumed to have existed at Sanghol, Mathura, Sanchi, Ajanta, Nagarjunikonda, etc) included rules of proportion amongst there training (the Kama Sutra lists it amongst the six limbs of painting). Not only can rules of proportion help us to identify different schools and styles but they help give us some appreciation of the ideals the artist followed.
Proportions are also important because they indicated formal artistic training. They indicate this in two ways. Firstly, the proportions are very consistend from site to site, both at Mathura and in other Indian parts of the Empire, and secondly because they are not drawn from life. For the images to maintain the same set of unrealistic proportions it is necessary that artists would have to be formally trained; it is not enough to simply be told, actually producing an image to a set of proportions requires practice, and anyone who has played the children's game 'chinese whispers' will understand why it could not be achieved by simply copying other images.
It is hard to say if frank expressions of female sexuality were driven by an assertive group of monastic and lay women keen to assert the importance of 'feminine' attributes in religious practice, or if they show a cultural attitude that fertility and other characteristics made religion a 'separate sphere' more receptive to women's participation, or if they are a means of controlling women's image by a patriarchal society deeply worried by the idea of women. Probably the images result from all of these factors, and some others.
"Culture screens breasts with impeccable thoroughness, almost never representing those that are soft, or asymmetrical, or mature, or that have gone through the changes of pregnancy. Looking at breasts in culture, one would have little idea that real breasts come in as many shapes and variations as there are women. Since most women rarely if ever see or touch other women's breasts, they have no idea what they feel like, or of the way they move and shift with the body, or of how they really look during lovemaking. Women of all ages have a fixation - sad, in the light of how varied women's breasts really are in texture - on 'pertness' and 'firmness'" (Wolf, 1995:246-7)
Some artistic elements do flow from Gandhara to India but it is not always direct or obvious. For example, in the Kushan period images of Sun Gods often appear in dress that appears central Asian, which some authors believe shows the influence of a central Asian cult - a direct cultural connection. However, Frenger (2003) has shown that the images are in fact subordinate parts of other works, not cult images at all. Their apparent copying of central Asian dress is in fact indirect and comes from an association between the Sun God and royal power. As the Kushans based their rule in the Northwest of the Empire (Bactria and Greater Gandhara) Kushan royal images were produced in a Central Asian style, so when artists used contemporary royal images as models they copied the Central Asian clothing.
Sometimes the nude goddess is seen as an image of fertility, often it is assumed that nudity bestows some sense of power on the goddess or Yakshi by showing her unfettered by the constraints on female sexuality that were the reality of most women. In that second sense the goddess shares a lot in common with the rich courtesan of Buddhist literature, both a powerful female figure and at the same time distant from ordinary women. Another notion often assumed in academic literature is that the Yakshis are promises of paradise - the reward that the devoted Buddhist or Jain might expect during their rebirth in heaven. Another possibility is that the audience might actually have been discomforted or repulsed by the images. Odd though it seems a stories to this effect survive in Buddhist literature. For example, in the Mula-Sarvastivada Vinayavastu the Buddha's visit to Mathura is recounted and various people try to block his entry. One, the goddess of the city, succeeds in doing so by appearing naked to which the Buddha responds 'A woman looks bad enough when poorly dressed, what to speak of without clothing!' (Jaini, ,218).
It is important to emphasise two things about these images. Firstly, they were publicly displayed at religious sites. They were seen by all members of the community and cannot have possessed the same sexual overtones that nudity has in our society (in fact nudity was completely out of the question in contemporary Indian society). Secondly, these were not real women, In almost every case it is reasonably certain that the figure in question represents a spirit or goddess (a divine figure of some sort). The only depictions that represent mortal women (the Harem images amongst the Begram ivories) were private images, not public displays. What Buddhist or Jain worshippers (male or female) perceived in these images was not the sexual, sensual, or erotic which our modern aesthetic picks out. Rather they perceived symbols of fertility or abstract notions of paradise.
I’ve read many descriptive sentences from peer grading essays and my trudge through numerous novels and short stories, and rarely do I find that descriptions really put an image into my head....