Thursday, January 17, 2013

Archetypal Beauty: the Tribhanga

I was stumbling through the vast time-wasting expanse of the internet, when I happened to come across the following photo:
Keira Knightley

Whether or not Keira Knightley is exactly your thing, I hope you can appreciate that this is a striking pose.  There is something about that S shaped curve, the angular elbow, level shoulder, and vertical  neck and arm that just seems aesthetically beautiful. 

Reflecting on what it is that made this picture jump out at me, I recalled something I saw at the museum recently.

Over the Christmas break, the family went down to the ROM to check out the new Dinosaur exhibit.  Entrance to the exhibit is gated by the particular time on your ticket, so we spent our wait in other parts of the museum.

It was in a section of sculptures that I read about the "tri-bent pose," or Tribhanga.  It is a standing body position with bends at the neck, waste, and knee.  The Hindu deity Krishna is often represented in such a stance (such as the sculpture at the ROM).  Buddhist representations are also found in tribhanga:
Avalokiteśvara in tribhanga

Avalokiteśvara in tribhanga

Clearly, the Indians are onto something.  As I learned from the wikipedia entry, the tribhanga position is considered to be the most graceful and sensual position in the classical Indian dance style of Odissi

Well, I had to see some of this dancing for myself.  The first youtube video I came across was the following recording of an Indian Odissi dance.  Despite having essentially no previous exposure to, nor appreciation of Indian dance, I was stunned by the skill, choreography, and grace they demonstrated (not to mention the incredible music).

So this was a quick journey in beauty, from celebrity skin to Hinduism, Buddhism, and classical Indian dance.  Experiencing our shared human condition over vast cultural divides blows my mind.  I hope you gained a little enlightenment too.