Monthly Archives: September 2017

Terracotta temples of Bengal : grandeur revisited at Kalna

     The area of Bardhaman in Bengal has been named after the 24th Jain tirthankara Mahavira Vardhamana. The area was called Bardhamanbhukti around 700 B.C, a part of Rarh.  One of the 16 janapadas of ancient India, the Magadhan dynasty, the Mauryas, the Kushanas, the Guptas have ruled it. The Gauda, the Pala, the Senas have ruled  before the Khilji powers.  Bardhaman was a paragana during Mughal period. Emperor Jahangir took the wife of Sher Afghan as his consort, the jagirdar of Bardhaman who was killed  near Bardhaman in 1606;  Meher-un-nissa, who later became Nur Jahan.  In  seventeeth century Raja Krishnaram Rai was made the zamindar of Bardhaman by Emperor Aurangzeb. The Rai family was the governing family of the area. Kirti Chandra Rai expanded his region and defeated the Raja of Bishnupur. Chitrasen followed and was given the title of Raja by the Mughals in 1740. He was succeeded by Tilakchand Rai when the British acquired Bardhaman and many other areas of Bengal.

  Against the backdrop of many a political  scene and happening, the town of Ambika Kalna or Kalna there have been lot temple building activity and construction of monuments like the Rajbari. Kalna is on the western bank of the Bhagirathi river.

  Kalna is home to many temples.  The Naba-Kailasha temple , Bijoy Vaidyanath Temple, Giri Gobardhan Temple,Gopalji Temple,Jaleswar Temple, Krishna Chandraji Temple Lalji Temple, Pancharatna Temple, Pratapeswar Siva Temple in Rajbari complex, Rameswar Temple, Ratneswar Temple and Rupeswar Temple.  A few temples are highlighted with the structures and carvings in terracotta reflecting the refined art technique of the time.

 

 

File:Kalna Temple Complex by Piyal Kundu.jpg

Rajbari complex,Ambika Kalna, Bardhaman,West Bengal.

By Piyal Kundu / পিয়াল কুণ্ডু (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

  The Naba Kailash temple was built by Maharaja Teja Chandra Bahadur in 1809 ad these atchala brick Temples are made out of auspicious numerical combination in two concentric Circles and dedicated to Lord Shiva. The outer circumference contains 74 temples and inner circumference has 34 temples. The temples represent beads in a rosary symbolically. the outer  circle’s shrines have the linga made of black stone, and the inner circle’s shrines have the linga made from white marble. All the lingas can be seen from the centre of the temple complex.

 

Naba Kailash temple, Kalna, Bardhaman, West Bengal.

By Indrajit Das – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51920155

108 shiva temples in kalna.JPG

Naba Kailash temple, Kalna, Bardhaman, West Bengal.

By Manojit Pati – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28070367

Inner Circle Entrance - Naba Kailash - Kalna 2016-09-25 6468.jpg

Inner Circle Entrance, Naba Kailash, Kalna, Bardhaman, West Bengal.

By BengaliHindu – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51952698

108 Shiva Temple 5.JPG

     The Krishna Chandra Mandir was built in 1752 by Maharani Laxmi Kumari Devi. It has 25 spires. Epics are depicted on the walls of this beautiful temple.

Krishna Chandra Temple WLM2016-5327.jpg

Krishna Chandra Mandir, Kalna, West Bengal.

By Schwiki – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51810228

WLM@WB-Krishna Chandraji Temple in Kalna 02.jpg

Krishna Chandra Mandir, Kalna, West Bengal.

By Indrajit Das – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51953945

Krishnachandratemple DSC 5372.jpg

Krishna Chandra Mandir, Kalna, West Bengal.

By Schwiki – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51951562

Terracota Panel in Krishnachandra temple WLM2016 DSC 5371.jpg

Krishna Chandra Mandir, Kalna, West Bengal.

By Sujay25 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51951981

The Lalji temple has 25 spires and is a Panchavimshati-Ratna. It was built by Braja Kishori Devi, the wife of Maharaja Jagat Ram in 1739. Built of bricks, and the walls are covered with terracotta figures.

Lalji temple,Kalna,Bardhaman, West Bengal.

By Piyal Kundu / পিয়াল কুণ্ডু – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5702479

Lalji Temple - Kalna - Inner Panel - 11.jpg

Lalji temple, Kalna, west Bengal.

By Sumit Surai – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51950563

Lalji Temple - Kalna - Outer Panel - 2.jpg

Lalji temple, Kalna, west Bengal.

By Sumit Surai – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51950707

Lalji Temple depicting terracotta sculpture, Kalna, Bardhaman, West Bengal.

By Piyal Kundu / পিয়াল কুণ্ডু – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5702521

Rameswar Temple WLM2016 5174.jpg

Rameswar Temple, Kalna,Bardhaman,West Bengal.

By Sujay25 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51805016

Terrakotta Panel-Rameswar Temple WLM2016-5178.jpg

Rameswar Temple, Kalna,Bardhaman,West Bengal.

By Sujay25 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51806016

Rupeswar Temple. Kalna. Burdwan.jpg

Rupeshwar temple,Kalna,West Bengal.

By Ajit Kumar Majhi – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51566183

 

References :

  • Terracotta art of Bengal/Biswas,S.S,Delhi : Agam Kala Prakashan,1981.
  • Indian terracotta art/Ganguly,O.C, Bombay : rupa and Co,1959.
  • wikipedia.org

 

Posted by:

 

Soma Ghosh

©author

 

 

 

Terracotta art of Bengal : splendorous images from Bishnupur

       The powerful Gupta empire had broken up by the 6th century. The area of Bengal got divided into different small kingdoms.  Vanga, Samatala anf Harikela in the east. In the west the Gauda kings made their capital at Karnasuvarna(near  present day Murshidabad) Though Shashanka, a vassal of the Guptas unified Gaur,Vanga and Samatala and tried for regional power with Harshvardhana after killing off his elder brother Rajyavardhana, he could not sustain for long. The Gauda power ended in Bengal with Shashanka’s death. From 7th century Malla kings ruled  West of Bengal  and parts of present day Jharkhand and were called the Rajas of  Bishnupur. The word Malla means wrestler and the kingdom was called Mallabhum.  Their main legacy are the awesome terracotta temples. From the 7th century till the 19th century, the Bankura district of present day West Bengal is known by the history of these Rajas.  The Palas were another great dynasty to rule Bengal and Bihar, who were patrons of Buddhism. Dharmapala (710-810 A.D) is its most celebrated emperor. The Palas established universities at Nalanda and Vikramshila. However the Chola and Chalukyan invasions ended their rule in the 11th century. The other dynasties to rule ancient Bengal were the Chandra and the Sena dynasty of southern origin. The Devas, another Hindu dynasty like the Senas, ruled after the collapse of the Sena dynasty.

   Coming to the subject at hand, it is reiterated that the temples were mainly the contribution of the Malla dynasty with Bishnupur as their capital. Some images are depicted to simply wonder at the stucco work, the architecture in mainly brick and the terracotta sculpture. The Bankura horse has become synonymous with Bengal. It is made of terracotta. Terracotta is burnt clay. Bengal artists have perfected this art medium and even today jewellery and plaques are produced.

   The temples were made from brick and covered with terracotta tiles which had scenes from the Hindu epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata and also everyday life. The temples were built by different Rajas of Bishnupur.  The dynasty was founded by Adi Malla and followed by Jay Malla. Upto the 48th ruler they were independent of foreign powers. Bir Hambir, the 49th ruler was a contemporary of Mughal Emperor Akbar in 16th-17th century and paid an annual amount to the Muslim viceroys of Bengal. He was followed by Raghunath Singha, the title of Singha being given to him by the Nawab of Murshidabad. He made Bishnupur a beautiful  city of palaces and temples. Most of the terracotta temples’ presiding deity is Lord Krishna or Radha-Krishna, the names being indicative. The temple with a single spire are called ekratna, five are called pancharatna.

  Rasmancha was the earliest temple, built by Raja Bir Hambir in the 17th century, surrounded by a passage/corridor with hut shaped turrets. The temple has a pyramid shaped shikhara.

Bishnupur Ras Mancha.jpg

Rasmancha,Bishnupur.

Rangan Datta Wiki – নিজের কাজ কর্তৃক, সিসি বাই-এসএ ৪.০, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51658366

Inside Rashmancha.png

Corridor around Rasmancha, Bishnupur, West Bengal.

Somdeep Gangulee – নিজের কাজ কর্তৃক, সিসি বাই-এসএ ৩.০, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28704137

 

    The Shyamrai temple is a pancharatna temple built in 1643 by Raja Raghunath Singha. The temple has an ocatgonal central shikhara  and the remaining four are square in shape. Lord Krishna’s life is depicted on the ornate carvings. Each side of the temple has three arches.

Shyam Ray Temple in Bishnupur.jpg

Shyamrai temple,Bishnupur, Bankura  West Bengal.

Jonoikobangali – নিজের কাজ কর্তৃক, সিসি বাই-এসএ ৩.০, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14941834

Terracotta work on Shyamrai Temple Bishnupur 8.JPG

Terracotta work on Shyamrai Temple, Bishnupur,West Bengal.

Amartyabag – নিজের কাজ কর্তৃক, সিসি বাই-এসএ ৩.০, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18523365

File:Terracotta work on Shyamrai Temple Bishnupur.JPG

Terracotta work on Shyamrai Temple, Bishnupur,West Bengal.

By Amartyabag (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

The Jor Mandir complex has three temples built by Raja Krishna Singha in 1726. 

Jor Mandir, Terracotta temple at Bishnupur,Bankura,West Bengal.

Rangan Datta Wiki – নিজের কাজ কর্তৃক, সিসি বাই-এসএ ৪.০, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51658364

Works in the pancharatna temple.jpg

Carvings on temple,Bishnupur,West Bengal.

By Dyutiman86 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=59899301

The Jor Bangla temple was built by Raja Raghunath Singha Dev II in 1655. The temple is admired for its intricate terracotta carvings.

Jor Bangla Temple 2 Bishnupur.JPG

Jor Bangla temple, Bishnupur,West Bengal.

Amartyabag – নিজের কাজ কর্তৃক, সিসি বাই-এসএ ৩.০, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18522459

Jor Bangla Temple Arches Bishnupur.JPG

Temple arches, Jor Bangla, Bishnupur,West Bengal.

Amartyabag – নিজের কাজ কর্তৃক, সিসি বাই-এসএ ৩.০, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18522461

Terracotta work on Jor Bangla temple, Bishnupur 2.JPG

Terracotta work on Jor Bangla temple, Bishnupur,West Bengal.

Amartyabag – নিজের কাজ কর্তৃক, সিসি বাই-এসএ ৩.০, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18522466

Terracotta work on Jor Bangla temple, Bishnupur.JPG

Terracotta work on Jor Bangla temple, Bishnupur,Bankura,West Bengal.

Amartyabag – নিজের কাজ কর্তৃক, সিসি বাই-এসএ ৩.০, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18522464

The Kalachand temple was built in 1656 by Raja Raghunath Singha using laterite.  Laterite is rich in iron and aluminium and the soil type can be used to make brick. Kalachand temple is an ekaratna temple.

Kalachand Temple (side view 2) Arnab Dutta 2011.JPG

Kalachand Temple, Bishnupur, Bankura District, West Bengal.

Jonoikobangali – নিজের কাজ কর্তৃক, সিসি বাই-এসএ ৩.০, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14929614

       Raghunath Singha was followed by Bir Singha Dev. He made many lakes and the temple of Lalji in 1658 A.D. His queen built the Murali Mohan temple in 1665. His son followed after him as ruler who built the Madan Mohan temple in 1694.

    The Lalji temple was built by Raja Bir Singha as an ekratna in 1658 dedicated to Radha-Krishna, on a square plinth with stucco decorations.

Lalji Temple Up Close.jpg

Lalji temple,Bishnupur,Bankura,West Bengal.

By Agniva Das – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21054944

Radha Madhab Temple.jpg

Murali-mohan temple, Bishnupur,Bankura,West Bengal.

SuparnaRoyChowdhury – নিজের কাজ কর্তৃক, সিসি বাই-এসএ ৪.০, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51117741

The Madan-mohan temple was built in 1694 by Raja Durjana Singh Dev. It is an ekratna temple. The carvings on the temple walls have scenes from the Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Puranas.

 

Madanmohan Temple.jpg

Madan Mohan Mandir (1694 AD), Bishnupur, Bankura , West Bengal.

SuparnaRoyChowdhury – নিজের কাজ কর্তৃক, সিসি বাই-এসএ ৪.০, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51117740

The Radha-gobindo temple was built in 1729 by  Krishna Singha as an ekratna  temple using laterite.

 

Stone Rath at Radha-Gobinda Temple Arnab Dutta 2011.JPG

Radha-Gobindo temple rath,Bishnupur,West Bengal.

Jonoikobangali – নিজের কাজ কর্তৃক, সিসি বাই-এসএ ৩.০, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14933167 

        Gopal Singh Dev ruled during 1730-45, a very pious ruler. Later Chaitanya Singha Dev ruled who was again very pious. He escaped to Kolkata with the idol of Madan Gopal when his cousin Damodar Singh  tried to gain power.

    The Radha-Madhab temple was built in 1737 by the daughter-in-law of Raja Gopal Singha, Churamoni Devi as an ​​ekratna style with brick having  floral and stucco designs.

 

            The Radha-shyam temple was built in 1758 by Raja Chaitanya Singha as an ekratna temple. It has a dome shaped shikhara  and has Puranic stories and floral designs in stucco on the temple walls.

Radhashyam Temple Entry Arch Bishnupur.JPG

Radha-shyam temple entry arch, Bishnupur,Bankura,West Bengal.

Amartyabag – নিজের কাজ কর্তৃক, সিসি বাই-এসএ ৩.০, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18522507

Stucco work on Radhashyam Temple, Bishnupur 2.JPG

Stucco work on Radha-shyam temple,Bishnupur, Bankura, West Bengal.

Amartyabag – নিজের কাজ কর্তৃক, সিসি বাই-এসএ ৩.০, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18522512

 

References :

  • The art of ancient India/Huntington,Susan,New York : Weatherhill,1985.
  • Indian terracotta art/Ganguly,O.C, Bombay : rupa and Co,1959.
  • wikipedia.org

 

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

 

© author

 

Nayikas in art : some glimpses from miniatures

 

          The Nayika occupies a very important place in Indian art and literature. She is seen in different moods. A translation of the word nayika is heroine. The depictions in art have captured her description in different hues and settings. The Kangra nayika is fluid in movement surrounded by nature. The elements of nature are captured in strong colours. The nayika could also be forlorn, sitting in a forest with the background in slightly softer shades. There is a  nayika in every woman. Bharata first captured the various nayikas , eight in number or the ashta nayika in his Natyashastra. Human feelings of eagerness, anger,separation, dejection etc. are all expressed through these paintings. The Nayika goes through different moods in her lifetime as per the situation prevailing then. Various poets and authors have described the feelings through their works in literature. Kalidasa has captured the anguish of separation of his nayika Shakuntala in his work Abhijnanashakuntalam in Sanskrit.  

     A nayika”s beauty is very much a part of the shringara rasa which includes the amorous , the erotic, the decorative, song and dance. The heroine forms the  central character in many works of Indian literature. Through the work one can experience her different moods and emotions, her challenges, her failures and her victories. The description of her beauty and character also make interesting reading and understanding of the social environment of a given era. A nayika brings out the best in a poet or dramatist, by lending her presence by illusory, historical or real presence.

Proshita-patika nayika, painting, early 19th century.

By Unknown – http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/labs/splitsecond/painting.php?id=15, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17106519

       Bharatmuni composed the Sanskrit treatise Natyashastra ( between 1st century BC and 3rd century AD, with others adding to the main work) on dance and the performing arts,  in which he has classified eight types of nayikas  called ashtanayikas. This theme has been well used in painting, sculpture, dance  and drama. Bharatamuni has focussed on the nayikas as she can appear in a given drama again depending on the plot. He has envisaged women as the root cause of happiness.

 

Swadhinabhartruka nayika, Kalighat painting, 19th/20th century.

By The original uploader was ENVI1 at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Redtigerxyz using CommonsHelper., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11806481

  The Natyasastra  describes eight types of nayikas. Though the term can encompass many types of nayikas in many facets and contexts, the various states of the nayika in love are depicted in drama. Bharatmuni has described many kinds of nayikas depending on other factors like social status, nature and also on how she is treated by the king as being part of the royal harem during ancient times. The different nayikas are the    Vasakashajja,Virohotkanthita,Svadhina-bhartruka,Kalahanatarita,Khandita, Vipralabdha, Proshitabhartruka and Abhisarika.

    Vasakashajja means one who is dressed up for union. She  is depicted below in a painting readying her shajja or bed with flowers. She is full of longing and is in a state of waiting for her lover.

Vaskashajja nayika, painting,late 17th century.

By Unknown – Online Collection of Brooklyn Museum; Photo: Brooklyn Museum, X623.2_IMLS_SL2.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10966883

      One who is distressed by separation is virohikanthita or  Utka,  a nayika who is pining for her lover who has failed to meet her or come home due to preoccupation. She is utterly disappointed.

File:Utka Nayika. A lady awaits her lover in the forest. 1775-1780. Kangra, British Museum, London.jpg

Utka nayika, painting.Kangra,late 18th century.

By Anonymous (British Museum) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

    A nayika is a svadhinabhatruka if she is one who is having her husband in subjugation. She controls her husband who is subjugated because of her intense love for him. He listens to her, applies mahawar on her feet, vermillion on her forehead. Radha has been portrayed as such in Geeta Govinda. Such a nayika  is  happy, proud and feels fortunate.

     Kalahanatarita is a nayika who is separated or angry with her lover due to quarrel. Sometimes she is separated due to her arrogance. In this state her lover is usually shown pleading with her, or leaving her house dejected. She might also be shown refusing his advances. She may also be depicted refusing a wine-cup that he is offering to her. The nayika is however repentant without him.

   Khandita is a nayika who is enraged with her lover because he has not come to her and probably spent his time with another woman and she is angry with him. In this state she is depicted as offended and rebuking her lover.

Vipralabhda is a nayika  who is a deceived heroine is a vipralabdha, one who has waited for her lover, she is usually depicted throwing away her jewellery and adornments. She is disappointed and her heart is full of discontent.

    Proshita-bhartruka is a nayika  who has a travelling husband and who does not come back on the scheduled day. She is depicted seated alone or surrounded by her maids and refusing to be consoled. She does not bother to dress up or apply any make-up or comb her hair.

    Abhisarika is the nayika who moves, setting aside her modesty to meet her lover secretly. She is shown facing dangers on her way like snakes and animals in the forest, thunder-storms etc. She is shown depicted as starting from the door of her house, in a hurry to reach her destination. She is drunk with the emotion that she feels and just wants to meet her lover who is waiting for her.

Abhisarika nayika,painting, Garhwal, 18th century.

By Mola Ram (MFA [1]) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

File:Vipralabdha Nayika. Jaipur, ca. 1800, British Museum, London.jpg

Vipralabdha nayika.,painting, Jaipur, 1800, British Museum, London.

By Anonymous (British Museum) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

References :

  • Nayika bheda in Kathak/Jyotishi, Chetana,Delhi : Agam Kala Prakashan,2009.
  • shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in

 

 

Posted by:

 

Soma Ghosh

 

© author