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The Iconography of The Brhadisvara Temple

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The Iconography of The Brhadisvara Temple

The Iconography of The Brhadisvara Temple

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Item Code: NAE727
Author: Lalit M. Gujral
Publisher: Indira Gandhi National Centre For The Arts
Language: English
Edition: 2002
ISBN: 8173052204
Pages: 80 (Throughout B/W Illustrations)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details: 10.0 inch x 9.0 inch
weight of the book: 800 gms
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About the Book

The programme Ksetra Sampada or regional heritage of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) envisages studies of specific cultural areas taking into account the process of interlocking devotional, artistic, geographical and social aspects. One area identified for such an integrated study was Tanjavur in South India. In collaboration with Ecole Francaise D'Extreme - Orient (EFEO), Pondicherry, IGNCA launched a comprehensive project to investigate the multi-layered and multi-dimensional personality of the Brhadisvara temple at Tanjavur. This in-depth study of the identified area and monument resulted in the publication of Tanjavur Brhadisvara: An Architectural Study, by Pierre Pichard, in 1995.

One of the inter-related modules of the project coordinated by Dr. R. Nagaswamy, includes iconographical study of sculptures, stone reliefs, bronze images and mural paintings. Accordingly, Dr. Francoise L'Hernault of EFEO undertook the task of photo- documentation of the icons of the Brhadisvara temple. She completed the assignment in 1994, and based on nearly 600 photographs of the icons, she prepared this monograph as a catalogue for the identification of the iconographical forms on the Brhadisvara temple.

This monograph is the second in the series of studies of Brhadisvara undertaken by the IGNCA. It sheds illuminating light on the iconographical forms of the two capital sites of the Cholas, viz., Tanjavur and Gangat-kondacholapuram.

Dr. Francoise L'Hernault passed away in 1999 at Pondicherry.

About The Author

Dr. Lalit M. Gujral, M.A. (Delhi), Ph.D. (London), historian-editor, had been involved in the revision and rewriting of the Imperial Gazetteers of India. He has had long association with UNESCO and has served as Education and Cultural Counselor in the Consulate General of India, New York. Dr. Gujral is the author of many research papers. He is co-editor of Ancient Cities, Sacred Skies: Cosmic Geometries and City Planning in Ancient India (2000). Presently, he has been serving as Editor of one of the important publication programmers of the IGNCA. He has been responsible for the re-publication of the volumes of the Collected Works of Dr. Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, as also a very large number of volumes of critical scholarship on different facets of the Indian artistic traditions.

Preface

Sometime back, the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) launched two projects under its programme of Kseira Sampada. These projects envisaged not only a set of a specific place or a temple and its units, but its impact on culture of the people surrounding it, the process of interlocking of the devotional, artistic, geographical, socio-political and economic aspects of a particular centre. Two areas identified for such integrated studies were Tanjavur in South and Vrindavana in North India. These in-depth and multidimensional studies of identified areas and monuments resulted in the publication of Tanjavur Brhadisoara: An Architectural Study, by Pierre Pichard, in 1995; and Govindadeva: A Dialogue in Stone, edited by Margaret Case, in 1996.

Concurrently, started as part of the programme on Chola architecture, undertaken some years back by Ecole Francaise D'Extreme - Orient (EFEO), Pondicherry, the architectural study of the Brhadisvara temple found a wider meaning in the comprehensive project launched by Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan, then Academic Director, at the IGNCA, to investigate the multi- layered and multi-dimensional personality of the Brhadisvara temple. The temple at Tanjavur is unanimously regarded as the greatest masterpiece of Chola architecture. The artistic excellence of the temple lies in the perfect balance of the parts and the whole, the architecture, sculpture, painting, the stone and bronze images, the idols Within, and reliefs without. The temple was constructed roughly between AD. 995 and 1010 by King Rajaraja I, who ruled from A.D. 985 to 1014.

The temple at Gangaikondacholapuram (henceforth designated as Gangai) was built 20 years later by Rajaraja's son King Rajendra L The latter in his endeavour to extend the limits of his kingdom despatched an army on a daring raid to the north to the banks of the river Ganga. He decided to construct a royal temple at the new capital some 60 kilometres to the north-west of Tanjavur which was named Gangaikondacholapuram, 'the town of the Chola who took the Ganga'. The temple at Gangai is closely related to the Brhadisvara temple by its architectural composition and they both represent a pair in Chola architecture.

Coordinated by Dr. R. Nagaswamy, a standard code was devised so that all subsequent studies under the project would follow it. One of the inter-related modules of the project includes iconographical study of sculpture, stone reliefs, bronze images and mural paintings. Accordingly, Dr. Francoise L'Hernault of EFEO was entrusted with the task of photo documentation of the icons of the Brhadisvara temple. She photographed each icon on each face of the main temple tower and other shrines. She completed the assignment in 1994 and based on nearly 600 photographs of the icons, she prepared a monograph indicating location of these images as a catalogue for the identification of the iconographical forms on the Brhadisvara temple. The monograph prepared by her sheds illuminating light on the iconographical forms of the two capital sites of the Cholas-Tanjavur and Gangai.

Unfortunately, Dr. Francoise L'Hernault passed away in 1999, before her findings, analyses and the beautiful photographs she took, could be published. It was decided to publish her monograph after careful editing; the format, design, etc. are the same as that of its companion volume Tanjavur Brhadisoara: An Architectural Study.

We are grateful to Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan, who conceived and directed execution of the whole project; Dr. N.R. Shetty, Member Secretary, extended all encouragement for the publication of this monograph; and Ms. Krishna Dutt, who had coordinated the entire project with EFEO. Lastly, Mr. Vikas Arya, our co-publisher, is to be thanked for bringing out this beautiful illustrated book.

Contents

Prefacev
1The iconographic context of Tanjavur and Gangai1
2The sanctuary-tower2
-The Linga in the sanctum2
-The iconography of the corridor on the ground floor of the sanctuary-tower4
-Visual representation of two interlocking concepts5
-The paintings6
-The iconography of the facades on the ground floor of the sanctuary-tower6
-Iconographic principles or iconographic fillers?11
-The iconography of the corridor on the upper storey of the sanctuary-tower12
-The iconography of the facades on the upper storey of the sanctuary-tower12
-The iconography of the superstructure of the tower:14
3The two lateral stairways leading to the vestibule14
4The pillared hall19
5The gallery and its sub shrines22
6The inner gateway25
7The subsidiary shrines in the courtyard30
Conclusion32
References33
List of Plates34
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