Rob Linrothe. Art in Context: ‘This is it!’ Bihar for Art’s Sake
Bihar, considered one of the most ‘backward’ states in India, is still capable of surprise, delight and awe. This is the case even after nearly 200 years of exploration, surveying, antiquity looting, conservation, excavation and research of sculpture and architecture. Even setting aside the under-investigated area of Bihar north of the Ganges, historically known as Mithila (see Linrothe, forthcoming), and the area now constituting the state of Jharkhand, formerly southernmost Bihar, the discoveries and rediscoveries keep coming, foaming up, as it were, from fields, riverbanks, ponds and tanks. Local collections of sculpture formed from earlier planned and accidental finds in the central-southern area of Bihar exceed in quantity and quality both private and public holdings in Beijing, New York, California and Berlin. The rows of 7th to 12th century sculptures in the long halls of the Patna, Nalanda, Gaya, Bodh Gaya and Nawada museums astonish, but equally impressive items are also encountered in unexpected places, gracing village shrines.