Holy Madness Portraits of Tantric Siddhas



Holy Madness: Portraits of Tantric Siddhas is a groundbreaking examination of the art and legends of some of the most colorful characters in South Asian and Himalayan civilization. With contributions by ten of the most prominent scholars in the field, this catalog provides both a survey of the topic of mahsiddhas (Sanskrit, “mah” meaning “great” and “siddha” meaning “accomplished one”) in art as well as essays on particular aspects of the theme, including literary, religious, sociological, and anthropological dimensions.

The catalog provides a survey of the format of mahasiddha art, the contexts and purposes for which the art was originally made. It features complete sets of paintings and sculptures — in some cases reconstituting groups that have been dispersed into different Western museum collections. More than a hundred works of art are included, from Indian miniatures to contemporary photographs of ascetics, from Nepalese clay sculptures to Tibetan woodblock prints, palm-leaf manuscripts and lifesize bronze sculpture. The various works are compared with art still surviving in situ to give a wide view of this important and charismatic type of religious teacher, one that inspired generations of artists. (Serindia/Rubin Museum, 2006, 454 pp)

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