Sages, spies, warriors, mercenaries, dope fiends — yogis throughout history have played many different (and often surprising) roles in society. Yoga: The Art of Transformation, a new exhibition at the Smithsonian’s Sackler Gallery of Asian Art, in Washington, D.C., is a visual display of 2,000 years of complicated history, culture, and mystery.
Here’s a sneak peek of what to expect, as reported by Jane O’Brien, of the BBC, who attended the opening:
“A group of fearsome looking yoginis, more than 1,000 years old, greet visitors at the start of the exhibition. These are flying goddesses who attained divinity by practising tantric yoga. They sit in audacious poses, baring their sharpened teeth and voluptuous breasts, their loose hair marking them as wild women.
“Some are adorned with snakes while another has her fingers in her mouth, ready to pierce the night skies with a war whistle.”
Read Jane O’Brien’s BBC coverage here, and explore the exhibition’s website and blog. The exhibition runs until January 26, 2014.
Image from the Bento, the Sackler blog: Vishnu Vishvarupa, India, Rajasthan, Jaipur, ca. 1800–1820, Opaque watercolor and gold on paper, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Given by Mrs. Gerald Clark, IS.33-2006.