Lion Motif used in Buddhist Architecture of Ancient Bangladesh
Lion is the king of the animal world. They live in the plains and grassy hills. The male lion's job is to protect the clan from enemies. However, lions do not have any natural enemy. Due to these characteristics, the lion has been considered through all ages in the world as a symbol of royalty and protection as well as of wisdom and pride. In Buddhism, lions are symbolic of the Bodhisattvas. In Buddhist architecture, lion motifs or figure were used as protectors of Dharma and therefore support the throne of the Buddha’s and Bodhisattvas. The lion motifs (symbol) were also used at the entrance of the monasteries and shrines possibly for the same reason. In ancient Bangladesh, there are various types of Lion motif used in terracotta plaques of Ananda Vihara, Rupbhan Mura and Shalban Vihara at Mainamati in Comilla district, Vashu Vihara, Mankalir Kundo at Mahasthangarh in Bogra district and Somapura Mahavihara at Paharpur in Naogaon district. This paper aims to address the cultural significance of the lion motif in Buddhist architecture of ancient Bangladesh and relates it to various types of representation to understand its origin and evaluation.
2. Ibid.; see also, Sen, Asis, Animal Motifs in Ancient Indian Art, Firma K.L., Calcutta, 1972; Zimmer, H., Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization, New York, 1962; Zimmer, H., The Art of Indian Asia, vol. 1, New York, USA, 1955, p. 181.
3. Divyabhanusinh, The Story of Asia’s Lion, Marg publications, Mumbai, 2005, p.118.
4. Ven. Jampa Chisky, “Symbolism of Animals in Buddhism,” Buddhist Himalaya, vol. 1, no.1, Gokan co. Ltd., 1988, p.37.
5. Lion motif used as symbolism of Shakaysimha or Shakayamuni i. e. Buddha and its developed through Theraveda Buddhism with Anionic visualization. See also, Susan L. Huntington, The Art of Ancient India, weather hill, New York, 1985, pp. 31, 32.
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9. Ibid. (see also, Divyabhanusinh, The Story of Asia’s Lions, Marg publications, Mumbai, 2005).
12. Haraprashad Shastri (ed.), Hajar Bachorer Bangla Bhashar Buddha gan o doha (in Bengali), Mahabodhi book agency, Calcutta, 2000, p. 239, Charchayapada, pada no.33, Rag patomonjuri, line 9, (cha, 33: 9), see also, Ahamed Sharif, Moddayjuger Samaj o Sanskriti (in Bengali), Dhaka.
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14. Gupta, S. P., The Roots of Indian Art (A detailed study of the formative period of Indian Art and Architecture: Third and Second centuries B.C. - Mauryan and Late Mauryan), B. R. publication, Delhi, 1980, pp. 121-122. (see also Asokan Pilar at Sarnath plate 3a).
16. Sutapa Sinha, “A New Light on the Significance of Lion Motif appeared on Coins and on single Inscription of the sultans of Bengal”, Journal of Bengal Art, vol. 16, 2011, p.139-155, Dhaka,(plate 10.16A, B & C).
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23. Muhammad Shohrab Uddin and Shaermin Rezowana, “Animal (mammal) Representation in Somapura Mahabihara in situ Terracotta plaques”, Journal of Bengal Art, vol. 17, 2012, p.194, (pl. 15.10, 15.11, 15.13 and 15.16). Explaining the terms “Motif” the well known folklorist Stith Thompson writes, “while the term motif is used very closely to include any of the elements going into a traditional tale, it must be remembered that in order to become a real part of the tradition on element must have something about it that will make people remember and repeat it” a lion itself is not a motif but a flying lion becomes one, because it is a least thought to be unusual.
24. Saifuddin Chowdhury, Early Terracotta Figurines of Bangladesh, Bangle Academy, Dhaka, 2000, p. 186.
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28. Sudipa Bandyapadhyay, Architectural Motifs in Early Medieval Art of Eastern India (Pala- Sena Period), Kolkata, India , 2002, fig.73, pravha - tarana, fig. 74, sketh: 2.
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30. Saifuddin Chowdhury, 2000, Early Terracotta Figurines of Bangladesh, Bangle Academy, Dhaka, p. 186.
32. Susan L. Huntington, The Art of Ancient India, Weather hill, New York, 1985, pp. 47, 123.
33. Rama P. Coomaraswamy, The Door in the Sky: Coomaraswamy on Myth and Meaning, Princeton University, USA, 1997, p.28.
34. Susan L. Huntington, The Art of Ancient India, weather hill, New York, 1985, p. 395.
35. Ibid. p. 151.
36. Paresh Chandra Mandal, “Shiva” in Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh, (Chief Editor Sirajul Islam), Asiatic Society of Bangladesh, Dhaka, Vol. 9, 2003, p. 273).
37. Jack Tresidder, (ed.), The Complete Dictionary of Symbols in Myth, Art and Literature, Duncan Baird Publishers, London, 2004, p. 291,
38. Bhikkhu Sunithananda, Bangladesher Buddha Bhashkarjo (in Bengali), (Buddhist Sculpture of Bangladesh), Asiatic Society of Bangladesh, Dhaka, 1999, pp. 121, 122.
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