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Essential Ananda K. Coomaraswamy (Perennial Philosophy Series) Kindle Edition. Kindle Edition. $ . by Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy · Kindle Edition. Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy who was born in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and grew up in England, taught the West the way to approach and understand the arts of. Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy was the son of Sir Mutu Coomaraswamy, from Ceylon, and his wife Elizabeth Clay Beeby, from Kent. Coomaraswamy joined.

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He was a lawyer and Member ocomaraswamy the Legislative Council of Ceylon. He was the first non-Christian Asian to be called to the English Bar. Sir Muttu passed away when Ananda was only two years old.

Anamda was brought up by his mother who never married again. Ananda grew up in England where he studied at the newly established Independent School, Wycliffe College in Stonehouse, Gloucestershire.

In he entered the University of London, graduating in with first class honours in Geology and Botany. In he identified the mineral Thorianite found in gem pit gravel washings, and his work on this subject led to the award of a Doctor of Science degree from the University of London in He coomaraswamj the first Ceylonese to be awarded this degree, the highest degree of the University of London.

He called the mineral Uraninite in an article in Spolia Zeylanica, but it was later identified as a new mineral and then followed an extended correspondence with double Nobel Prize winner Madam Curie about its radioactivity. In he founded the Ceylon Social Reform Society. The Society published a Journal at six monthly intervals which it continued to do for five years until it folded up. He set about dismantling Western prejudices about Asian Art through an affirmation of the beauty, integrity and spiritual coomraaswamy of traditional art in Ceylon and India.

He claimed fluency in 36 languages, where his definition of fluency in a language is the ability to read a scholarly article without referring to a dictionary. Coomaraswamy- Pic in Wikipedia. He refused to join the British armed services in World War I cokmaraswamy the grounds that India and Ceylon were not independent and declared xnanda a conscientious objector and publicly argued his position.

As a result he was exiled from the British Empire and a bounty of Pounds placed on his head by the British Government and his house was seized.

He therefore moved to USA in together with his extensive art collection. He was appointed Curator of Indian and Oriental Art at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and worked there for the next thirty years until he retired in The book describes in detail American, English and Indian first editions of 95 books written by Coomaraswamy, plus descriptions of a further 96 books containing contributions by him and details of contributions by him to periodicals and newspapers.

What a prolific writer! No wonder it took Crouch 20 years to complete the Bibliography which runs to pages. Coomaraswamy reached the age of 70 years on 22 August and retired from his post in the Museum. He was given wnanda felicitation dinner at which he gave his last public speech. Alas, this was not to be. An ambulance was called but it was too late.

He had passed away peacefully in his beloved Japanese garden. The remains were cremated and part kenish the ashes scattered in the Ganges and the rest scattered in a river in Ceylon.

Outlines of four selected books out of the 95 books written by him are given below.

Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy |

It has pages with 55 plates consisting of multiple photographs and illustrations. The photos were selected from over a thousand relevant photographs taken by his English wife Ethel Mary Coomaraswamy nee Partridge on glass plate negatives which was the technology of the day. To avoid going cap in hand to Publishers begging them to publish his book, Coomaraswamy did the next best thing and bought the ailing Essex House Press.


Using his considerable inherited wealth he bought a small church called Norman Chapel in Broad Campden in Gloucestershire. He used part of the premises as his residence and moved the machinery of Essex House Press to the rest of the building. Hand printing of the book started in September and was completed in December The layout of the book, which is a work of art in its own right, and the printing of the copies were supervised by him. Proof reading of the book was done by Don Martino De Zilva Wickremasinghe of the Indian Institute, Oxford, whose life and work have been described in the August edition of this Journal.

Copies of this first edition are quite rare in Australia, only two copies are traceable in libraries open to the public and the restricted access copy in the New South Wales State Library is numbered No. A copy of this first edition was available in the National Library, Canberra, but is now missing, perhaps it has gone walkabout.

A copy of the third edition is available, but the reproduction of the illustrations is inferior. Coomaraswamy believed that in traditional societies there was no distinction between fine arts and other arts such as decorative arts, useful arts, handicrafts etc, nor between religious and secular arts.

For him the most humble folk art and the loftiest religious creations were an outward expression not only of the sensibilities of those who created them but of the whole civilization in which they were nurtured.

In a few years it may be gone forever. Among the subjects discussed and illustrated in detail in this page large sized 35 by 27 cm comprehensive study of the subject are: As a typical example of an illustration from the book, Fig 2 shows a 19th century Verandah Ceiling Painting from the Dalada Maligawa, Kandy. The original painting was in shades of brown and green and represents a forest scene with parrots, hares, squirrels and hunters.

The illustration was copied by Ethel Mary Coomaraswamy but the original in the ceiling of the Dalada Maligawa no longer exists. This book was first published in by the Colombo Museum as the first in a series of Memoirs of the Colombo Museum. Among the Buddhist Bronzes, eleven images of Buddha are illustrated. The largest of them is a 55 cm high sedentary statue and Coomaraswamy dates this as 5th or 6th century. By far the largest of the Bodhisatva images is the 46 cm high bronze, probably of Maitreya, discovered in near the Thuparama Dagoba in Anuradhapura.

Also illustrated are four small images of Avalokitesvara. The largest of the Hindu bronzes are the eight images of Siva as Nataraja, all were found in Polonnaruva. The largest of these is nearly a metre high. Also illustrated is the stunning bronze of the Goddess Pattini, nearly five feet 1. Coomaraswamy dates this as 7th or 8th century. It was found in the east coast of Ceylon and presented by Governor Brownrigg in to the British Museum in London where it is a prized exhibit, right at the entrance to the South Asian section.

Since it has spent nearly years in London, it is about time that it is returned to its country of origin. This page book was first published in New York in and is a collection of 14 essays, mainly about Indian art and culture. It is one of his best known books. Of the three dances described, it is the third one that is most commonly expounded in Bharatha Natyam dance recitals.


One of the names of Shiva is Nataraja, or Lord of the Dancers. The legend is that a group of belligerent rishis endeavoured to destroy Shiva by incantations. Shiva then proceeded to perform a mystic dance and it is in this form that he is portrayed as Nataraja in statues. In this form he has four hands and braided locks, he is adorned with jewellery, in his hair is a cobra and the mermaid figure of Ganga. One left hand holds fire, the other points down to the vanquished demon Muyalaka.

The left foot is raised. He stands on a lotus pedestal from which springs an arch tiruvasi which encircles him, fringed with flame. It is about a metre in height and was excavated in at Siva Devale No. All Nataraja statues are basically similar and differ only in detail. This is because the sculptor in making a statue of a Hindu God has to follow strictly the guidelines and principles laid down in the Shilpa Sastras ancient texts on architecture and the arts.

By these means, our Father scatters the darkness of illusion mayaburns the thread of causality karmastamps down evil malashowers Grace, and lovingly plunges the soul in the ocean of bliss ananda.

Alas, this was not to be, because Coomaraswamy died suddenly of a heart attack on 09 Septembera few days after his 70th birthday which was on 22 August That was the end of his nomination for a Nobel Prize because the prize cannot be awarded posthumously.


It is a pity because Ceylon missed a chance of having its first Nobel Prize winner. The Nobel Prize for literature was awarded to the prolific French writer Andre Gide whose work centres on a continuous search for intellectual honesty.

The title of the book comes from the Bible Genesis 4: Cain and Abel were the sons of Adam and Eve.

Cain was a farmer and Abel was a shepherd. This upset Cain and when they went to the fields, Cain killed Abel. The first essay in the book has the same title as the book. It is a stinging attack on Occidental imperialism, especially upon the cultural imperialism which arrogates to itself a civilizing mission. The short essay is followed by 86 References and End Notes referring to this essay only.

The References and End Notes run to 12 pages in a smaller font than the 14 page essay, and have a higher word count than the essay. You are commenting using your WordPress.

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Learn how your comment data is processed. Coomaraswamy- Pic in Wikipedia He refused to join the British armed services in World War I on the grounds that Anand and Ceylon were not independent and declared himself a conscientious objector and publicly argued his position. Bronzes from Ceylon, chiefly in coomaraswaamy Colombo Museum This book was first published in by the Colombo Museum as the first in a series of Memoirs of the Colombo Museum.

It shows the width and depth of his all-embracing self-taught scholarship. Leave a comment Filed under Uncategorized.

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Aloysius College in Galle and the universities of Peradeniya and Oxford.