Walter Spink’s intense concern with the development of the Ajanta caves and their architectural, sculptural and painted features finds its most insistent reflection in his present richly illustrated study. In part 1, Spink explains the many connections between the Bagh caves and its “sister site”, Ajanta. He particularly emphasizes the leading role that Bagh plays in establishing the “short chronology” and in the crucial matter of Buddhist shrine development from the aniconic to iconic forms of worship.
In part 2, along with his colleague Professor Naomichi Yaguchi, who also provided the photographs and the newly informative plans, the authors show how, over the course of a mere decade, better and better ways were discovered to fit the doors in the cells where the monks lived. Such an analysis reveals the vigor of the conceptual and technical changes that characterize Ajanta’s evolution from its start in the early 460s to its traumatic collapse in about 470. Moving from Ajanta’s beginning to its ending, the evolution of door fittings parallels the precise and dramatic
development of Indian history in the remarkable course of the emperor Harisena’s reign.
Walter M. Spink, Professor Emeritus of Indian Art at the University of Michigan, received his PhD from Harvard University in 1954. His chief interest has centered upon the Ajanta caves in India, where he had spent many years, with support from Bollingen, Guggenheim, Fulbright Foundations, NEH, and AIIS for his multi-volume
Ajanta: History and Development (Brill).
Naomichi Yaguchi, Ph.D. (1998) of Nagoya University, is Associate Professor of the School of Humanities at Kanazawa University. He has published numerous articles on mediaeval South Indian architecture and ancient Indian cave architecture, mainly in Japanese.
Scholars interested in India's Classic Age and the surprising major role played by the Ajanta caves, through the discipline of art history, for a drastic revision of Indian history in the fifth century.