Sculpture at Vijayanagara: Iconography and Style

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Item Code: NAC424
Author: A.L. Dahmen Dallapiccola, Anila Verghese
Publisher: Manohar Publishers And Distributors, American Institute Of Indian Studies
Edition: 1998
ISBN: 8173042322
Pages: 415 (Illustrated Throughout In B/W)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 11.5 Inch X 8.8 Inch
Weight 1.50 kg
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Book Description
From the Jacket

This pioneering volume is the first exhaustive attempt to situate Vijayanagara sculpture within the perspective of Southern Indian art traditions from the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries. The research presented here is based on an extensive and intensive study of the Vijayanagara site.

Vijayanagara (in present-day Karnataka) served as the capital of an immense empire from its foundation in C. 1350 to its destruction in 1565. The Vijayanagara rulers consciously promoted religion and culture, thereby incorporating into their capital a large variety of cults and religious traditions, not only Hindu but also Jaina and Islamic. This explains the wealth of religious imagery found in the innumerable monuments at the site. Alongside there are a variety of royal and decorative themes. It is this rich intermixture of sacred and secular topics which makes Vijayanagara sculpture especially interesting and different from earlier periods of Southern Indian art.

In this volume the origins and uniqueness of the Vijayanagara style are examined, as well as the materials and techniques used, and the iconographic forms that were developed. Narrative imagery, which was highly developed at the site, is discussed at some length in a separate chapter. Other chapters are devoted to the various images of the different gods and goddesses, minor divinities, saints and heroes. Royal themes, such as depictions of courtly figures and their activities, form the subject of yet a further chapter. Representations of animals and birds, and floral and geometric motifs are also included.

The volume is illustrated with a generous selection of specially prepared line drawings, photographs and location maps. The appendices supply a wealth of essential data of interest for specialists.

Anna L. Dallapiccola, formerly Professor of Indian Art History at the South Asia Institute, University of Heidelberg, Germany, now Honorary Professor at Edinburgh University, has been associated with the Vijayanagara Research Project since 1983. Among her re cent publications is The Ramachandra Temple at Vijayanagara, together with John M. Fritz, George Michell and S.Rajasekhara (Manohar, 1991).

Anila Verghese is head of the Department of History, Sophia College, Mumbai. She has regularly visited Vijayanagara for her research since 1983. She is author of Religious Traditions at Vijayanagara as Revealed through its Monuments (Manohar, 1995).


This book deals in detail with sculpture at Vijayanagara (present-day Hampi, Hospet taluka, Bellary district, Karnataka), the capital of the Vijayanagara kingdom from the mid- fourteenth century to 1565. The Vijayanagara kingdom, at its peak, extended over much of southern India. From Vijayanagara city ruled the monarchs of three dynasties: Sangama (1336-1485), Saluva (1485-1505), and Tuluva (1505-65).

The Vijayanagara rayas consciously promoted religion and culture. Hampi, which had been a Shaivite tirtha from pre-Vijayanagara times and which also had links with the Ramayana, was developed into aprosperouscity. At Vijayanagara were incorporated many cults and religious traditions, not only Hindu, but also Jaina and Islamic. This explains the wealth of religious images found at the site. Alongside these are a variety of secular sculptural themes, including those depicting courtly and martial scenes. This rich intermixture of religious and secular topics is what makes Vijayanagara sculpture especially interesting and different from the earlier periods of southern Indian sculpture.

This volume is part of the Vijayanagara Research Monograph Series. Others in the series that deal, directly or indirectly, with Vijayanagara art and architecture are The Vijayanagara Courtly Style by George Michell, The Ramachandra Temple at Vijayanagara by A.L. Dallapiccola, J.M. Fritz, G. Michell and S. Rajasekhara, and Religious Traditions at Vijyanagara by Anila Verghese. The last two touch on some aspects of Vijayanagara sculpture. However, no study, either in this series or in the works of earlier art historians, has dealt in depth with Vijayanagara sculpture. The idea of this volume occurred to us as we keenly experienced the lacuna during fieldwork and research at the site. We felt the need to define what is the nature of Vijayanagara sculpture and to highlight the themes and iconography connected with it; to seek its roots in the diverse sculptural traditions of southern India, as also the new elements evident in it. We were also aware that what happened at the capital city not only influenced sculpture elsewhere in the kingdom, but also in its successor states, the Nayaka kingdoms.

During the course of extensive fieldwork, beginning in 1984, we have covered not only all the principal monuments and their sculptures within the core area of the city, but also in innumerable minor structures as well as those scattered on rocks and boulders all over the site. This monograph, however, deals only with the stone sculpture and stuccowork of the Vijayanagara period found at the site and in the Archaeological Museum located in Kamalapuram village. (Metal sculptures of the period are practically non-existent at Vijayanagara). Only the extant sculptures of the core area of the erstwhile capital city and of some of the principal monuments in the suburban centres have been included. Vijayanagara period sculpture within the wider area of the empire lies beyond the scope of this monograph.

This volume is written keeping in mind the needs of the specialist and the general reader. For the former, detailed references have been cited in the notes at the end of each chapter and in the Appendices. In these, fairly exhaustive lists of the sculptures and their exact locations have been provided. We believe that this work is of a pioneering nature as it is the first exhaustive attempt to evaluate Vijayanagara sculpture within the perspective of art in southern India since 1350.


List of Illustrations vi
Preface xiv
Acknowledgements xv
Note on Map Series xvi
Portfolio of Drawings xviii
Chapter 1 Appreciation of Vijayanagara Sculpture 1
Chapter 2Techniques, Styles and Forms 7
Chapter 3Settings 17
Chapter 4Narratives 21
Chapter 5Shaiva Images 30
Chapter 6Vaishnava Images 43
Chapter 7Devi Images 62
Chapter 8 Minor Divinities70
Chapter 9Saints and Ascetics 76
Chapter 10Satis and Heroes 83
Chapter 11Jaina Images 89
Chapter 12Non-Religious Themes 91
Chapter 13 Animals, Birds and Mythical Beasts 100
Chapter 14Decorative Motifs 108
Glossary 141
Iconographic Index 163
Plates 277
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