The Power of Presentation
The second figure on the right panel is another apsara who is carrying a lotus flower in her hand. The lotus has a very special meaning in Hinduism as well as Buddhism. I have talked about that here.
The presentation of dancing apsaras with voluptious bodies in combination with a lotus flower represents a metaphorical relevancy - that of purity. The popular understanding of these presentations being highly erotic in a European sense is simply false. The origins of this wrong preception lies in the the past when European "discoverers" came across these presentations in the 19th century.
It is understandable from the point of these "highly educated" men and women that they were deeply disturbed, even shocked by these "obscene" and evil scenes on display allover the temples of Khajuraho, considering the times in which they were educated. Social requirements were strict in a way that did not permit any freedom of mind nor behaviours. It is said that young English ladies, who travelled during the era of colonial times passed out when they fully caught sight of these scenes and figures which were adorning the temple walls everywhere.
The (my) figures are represented in a stylised manner. Partially I adopted the ancient Indian presentation of these figures - though I intensified the"physical" impression, emphasizing the female aspect without deteriorating into an abstruse pornographic presentation. The female aspect can be found in all round objects, not only in the figures themselves, but also in the jewellery and the ornaments.
It is amazing how different interpretations of a situtation can be depending on the knowledge of facts and background. As usual ignorance leads to misunderstanding even war in the worst case. How many cultural treasures have been destroyed, because people refuse to understand the background of these assets! Instead the works are smashed and vandalized for "religious" reasons such as the Buddha statues in Bamyian as we can very well remember. So many cultural treasures have vanished and can never be brought back, testimonials of a human mind and free spirit.
Ignorance and intolerance can lead to very costly operations, if not to mental and psychological damages of people directly involved. I ask myself often when people start questioning before they begin to destroy something they do not understand. In the era of nearly limitless access to information even in the most remote areas of this planet no-one can argue "s/he has known nothing".
The figures of these apsaras shall represent the female aspect only, a symbol for inspiration, imagination and creativity. Attributes which stand for the creation of something new not destruction! With these figures the ancient symbol of fertility is revived. Who would see this symbol in the anorexic shapes of modern fashion girls?
(will be continued...)