In the May 21 issue of the New York Review, William Dalrymple writes, “Lost Kingdoms is the largest pan-regional show ever mounted of Southeast Asian sculpture, terracottas, and bronzes. It was put together by the curator of the Indian and Southeast Asian department, John Guy, who also edited the remarkable catalog. Successive rooms illuminate successive waves of Indian influence, starting with the art of Southeast Asia’s early Buddhist sites. The highlight of this first Buddhist phase was a podium containing four large, seated Buddhas, one each from Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Thailand, arranged back to back, facing the cardinal points of the compass. Each was shown to be deep in meditation, smiling yet tense with spiritual concentration as each attempted to make a spiritual crossing of the turbulent waters of existence and rebirth, from samsara—the illusory physical world—to spiritual liberation. Each Buddha was chosen to represent a distinct sculptural tradition, each with its own personality, flavor, and style, where Indian inspiration had been transformed by local artists to produce something quite new and distinct. The connection to India was as clear as the degree to which the artists in Indo-China had radically transformed their models.”
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