Category Archives: art history

Art history

The Acanthus leaf : images from art and architecture

      The word ”Acanthus” recalls to mind the Corinthian columns from Greece. The leaf is a perennial, with thick, spiny leaves with serrated edges.  There are several varieties of  the acanthus plant. Though it is surmised that the motif of this leaf originated from the palmette design, it still fascinates. Acanthus depicts long and enduring life. The acanthus plant grows in and around  the Mediterranean. Check out the story of this unique leaf and its journey  in different media used in the human realm !

Image result for acanthus leaf design

Diagram, acanthus leaf.

Buddhist Capital from Gandhara, 4th century A.D

The Encyclopaedia Britannica says : Acanthus, in architecture and decorative arts, is a stylized ornamental motif based on a characteristic Mediterranean plant with jagged leaves, Acanthus spinosus. It was first used by the Greeks in the 5th century BC on temple roof ornaments, on wall friezes, and on the capital of the Corinthian column. One of the best examples of its use in the Corinthian order is the Temple of Olympian Zeus in Athens. Later the Romans used the motif in their Composite order, in which the capital of the column is a three-dimensional combination of spirals resembling rams’ horns and full-bodied acanthus leaves. The acanthus leaf has been a popular motif in carved furniture decoration since the Renaissance.

Image result for acanthus leafGrece athenes olympion det.jpg

Acanthus leaf.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Capital detail,temple of Olympian Zeus, 6th century,Athens, Greece. 

Temple of Olympian Zeus Athens Greece 8.jpg

Acanthus leaf design seen on the capitals, temple of Olympian Zeus, 6th century, Athens, Greece. 

A poem reads thus –

 The Corinthian of Greece and acanthus leaves-
The temple of Athens where the golden bell rings.
Its a tumble of tune a song for the yore-
The musical swells, as symphony soar.
The bride of Apollo does walk down the aisle, in virgin white lace-
by power of means she maneuvers with grace.
And Apollo himself wrote a passaged vow to wealthiest wealth of love that forever bows.
Without her, he says, the nights have no moon,
the stars will fall out of place,
neither courtesy of colors in midst noon nor there is such a beautiful face.
Apollo’s Bride, Cassandra, blushed with fury lust-
And by the ring she took his hand,
her lover Apollo took it by grand.
And together forever they treasured their land
Under Greece’s dome by the Corinithia of Acanthus leaves- ..
The bells continuously sing Golden bells’ ring
of what rumbles and bring
The definition of lovely things.

                                            ………………………..by Brittany Martin.

 Acanatha is a minor character in Greek mythology whose metamorphosis was the origin of the Acanthus plant. The tale goes that Acantha was a nymph loved by the god Apollo. Acantha, however, rebuffed Apollo’s advances and scratched his face. As a result, Apollo transformed her into the Acanthus, a plant with spiny leaves. The acanthus leaf has inspired  art and architecture right from the 5th century in Greece and Rome as mentioned. The leaf has inspired designs for wall papers, wood work as railings, on watches, as decoration on book illustrations. The 4th and 5th century art at Gandhara had a lot of Greek influence and the Buddhist capital below depicts the acanthus leaf used for ornamentation. The design is used as a modern tattoo too !Image result for acanthus leaf design

Illustration, Acanthus Capital.

File:Fragment of Frieze with Acanthus Leaves Encircling Fruit and Flowers MET sf10-175-96s1.jpg

Fragment of frieze with acanthus leaves, Islamic art, 6th century.

Byzantine architecture too has celebrated the acanthus leaf motif. The leaves cover large surfaces. Also seen in the letters of Illustrated manuscripts including the borders. Many Roman buildings have captured the beauty of this leaf as foliage designs. Islamic art has also used this awesome motif.

Illuminated Book of Hours with acanthus leaf as ornamental border, 1406–09 A.D

File:Rosewater sprinkler, Mughal dynasty, c. 1700, India, silver and gilt silver - Freer Gallery of Art - DSC05183.JPG

Mughal rose water sprinkler, acanthus motif design, 1700 A.D

Detail from the facade of the Cathedral in Syracuse, Italy, 18th century. 

File:Morris Acanthus Velveteen 1876.jpg

Acanthus block-printed cotton velveteen designed by William Morris, 19th century.

                                     Image result for acanthus motifs

Cushion cover, acanthus design, 21st century. (Image from Amazon.com)

 

References :

  • wikipedia.org
  • Images are from Wikimedia Commons

 

Posted by :

 

Soma Ghosh

 

©author

 

 

Mandu : a city with a love story

            Mention Mandu and everyone recalls the famous love story of Baz Bahadur and Rani Rupmati. Located in the Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh, now in Dhar district. the place has some amazing history along with beautiful built structures which illustrate the romance. Rupmati is a shepherd girl who Baz Bahadur, met during one of his hunting trips. He was the last ruler of Malwa, son of Shuja’at Khan; he heard her singing and was smitten by her beauty.  He asked her to come to Mandu, to which she agreed but asked to live at place not far from him and the Narmada river. This led to building of the Rupmati pavillion and the Rewa Kund. It is believed that they married as per Hindu and Muslim rites.

File:Bazrupmati.jpg

Baz Bahadur and Rani Rupmati, painting, Mughal (Murshidabad) school, 18th century.Rani Roopmati Mahal,MANDU.JPG

Rani Rupmati Mahal, Mandu.Rani Roopmati Pavillion.jpg

Rani Rupmati Pavillion, Mandu.

File:Rewa Kund.JPG

Rewa Kund, Mandu.

A beautiful Jahaz Mahal.jpg

Jahaz Mahal or Ship Palace, Mandu.

Intricate waterways leading to terrace pools in Jahal Mahal.JPG

Inside Jahaz Mahal, Mandu.

File:Baz Bahadur and Rupmati Hunting (recto), Sketches (verso) LACMA M.80.55.jpg

Baz Bahadur and Rani Rupmati hunting, painting, Nurpur, 18th century.

Unfortunately in 1561, the Mughal Emperor sent Adham Khan to conquer Mandu. Baz Bhadur fled to Chittorgarh to seek help. The army of Malwa was no match to the Mughal forces. Mandu was defeated in the battle of  Sarangpur. Rani Rupmati did not want to be captured and poisoned herself.

The story of Rupmati was written by Sharaf-ud-Din Mirza in the Persian language. He collected 26 poems of her; the original manuscript changed hands and and was translated by L. M Crump in 1926, under the title : ‘The lady of the lotusRupmati, Queen of Mandu, a strange tale of faithfulness.

 Excerpts from the translation :

……Her eyebrows are like unto the curves of the letter ‘Nun’ or unto rainbows in the heavens : to twin black fishes in the fountain of the sun, to the sword of that for the terror of infidels was sent down on earth : horns of the deer of sight are they or the sacred book of a temple of the idolaters : feathers of the wings of the falcon of vision or the invocation of the name of God. The painting of her eyebrows is as two crescent moons set each on other or twin daggers over twin swords : green  sheaths are they of the sharp falcons of her brows or two green leaves of the tree of Paradise. The tail of her eyebrow is the sting of the scorpion or the point of the sword of the executioner. The line of her knitted brows is a gleaming blade or a ripple in the wine-cup of her charms.

…..more often soon than late, for he neglected all things for her company, they would sing to each other the songs of love which they had composed, or, calling the musicians and the singing and dancing girls, listen to their songs of love and war. Fair was life to them evening after evening on the roof of the Ship Palace, in the heart of their dear city impregnable, looking out over mosque and tomb, dome and cupola of blue and green and yellow and of marble white, and beyond, to lake and wood, to hill and vale fair indeed, and all the fairer for the music in their ears and the love within their hearts. Yet was not Rup Mati slow to perceive that herein lay danger for Baz Bahadur. His nobles delighted to gather round him and ply him with wine, till he knew not night from day…..

Baz Bahadur's Palace from Rani Roopmati Pavilion.jpg

Baz Bahadur’s Palace, Mandu.

Baz Bahadur's Palace 08.jpg

Arcade, Baz Bahadur’s Palace, Mandu.

The songs and verses which are said to have been composed by Rupmati are dohas, kabittas and sawaiyas still sung in Mandu ! Also a part of  translated work by M.L Crump, The lady with the lotus.

File:The Defeat of Baz Bahadur of Malwa by the Mughal Troops, 1561, Akbarnama.jpg

The defeat of Baz Bahadur, painting from Akbarnama, late 16th century.

 

References :

  •  wikipedia.org
  • The lady of the lotus – Rupmati, Queen of Mandu, a strange tale of faithfulness/ Ahmad -ul-Umari, tr. L.M Crump, London : Oxford University Press, 1926.
  • Images from Wikimedia Commons

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

©author

Arabesque in architecture : glimpses from Mughal India

        The arabesque holds a special meaning. The Cambridge dictionary says that it is ‘a type of design based on flowers, leaves, and branches twisted together, found especially in Islamic art’.  The architecture of Mughal monuments in India offers many examples of arabesque art. The Taj Mahal, tomb of Emperor Akbar, tomb of I’timād-ud-Daulah, the Fatehpur Sikri, the Agra Fort, the Red Fort and several others. The arabesque has also been defines as a vegetal design consisting of full and half palmettes as an unending continuous pattern in which each leaf grows out of another. It is symbolic of the unity of faith of Islam.

         The beautiful and striking designs created on many Mughal monuments are actually a combination of the arabesque-vegetal, geometric patterns and Islamic calligraphy.  Islamic art is diverse and made up of stunning patterns, due to the absence of figures which could make it an object of worship, which is prevented in Islam. However the core of the art is symmetry and harmony. There is an effort to convey the structure of everything through pattern. Geometry is an important element, it is sacred geometry with an inner and outer meaning.

             Arabesque art depictions, mostly combined with geometry and calligraphy have two types, the first is about the principles that govern the order of the world. Geometric forms have a built in symbolism.The principles include the basics of what makes objects structurally sound yet pleasing to the eye. The square has equal sides and represents the important elements of nature, earth, air, fir and water. The physical world is symbolised by a circle that inscribes the square and would collapse upon itself without any of the four elements. The second type is based on the flowing nature of vegetal froms, representing the feminine life giving force. The third type is the mode of Islamic calligraphy. it is also called the art of the spoken word. Many proverbs and passages from the Holy Quran can be seen in arabesque art. The coming together of these three forms create the arabesque in its entirety. The art is not just mathematically precise but beautiful and symbolic. Many Islamic designs are based on squares and circles, interlaced to form complex patterns. A common motif is the 8 pointed star made of 2 squares, one rotated 45 degrees with respect to the other. Another basic shape is the polygon, mostly pentagon and octagon. Islamic artwork is found in jaali work or trellis tilings, woodwork, kilims or rugs, leather book bindings, metalwork, ceramics  and ceilings.

A glimpse into this fascinating world of visual art includes images from two important tombs in Agra, North of India, both from 17th century Mughal era.

Tomb of Emperor Akbar 

Emperor Jalalluddin Akbar was the third Mughal emperor, born in 1542 A.D, who ruled from 1556 to 1605 A.D. Akbar’s reign significantly influenced the course of Indian history. During his rule, the Mughal empire tripled in size and wealth. Akbar promulgated Din-i-Ilahi, a syncretic creed derived mainly from Islam and Hinduism, Zoroastrianism and Christianity. His tomb is at Sikandra, Agra, a structure with ornate and stunning Islamic art and architecture.

Tomb of Emperor Akbar, main entrance with  artwork, 17th century, Agra.

चित्र:Emperor Akbar.png

Emperor Akbar, miniature painting,  17th century, MFA, Boston, U S A

Related imageTomb of Emperor Akbar, 17th century, Agra.

Akbar's Tomb Sikandra Agra India (9).JPG

Detail, tomb of Emperor Akbar, 17th century, Agra.

Ceiling detail, ”muqarna”, tomb of Akbar, 17th century, Sikandra, Agra.

Related image

Ceiling detail, ”muqarna”,tomb of Akbar, 17th century, Sikandra, Agra.

Inlay panels on South Gate, tomb of Akbar, 17th century, Agra.

                File:Akbar's Tomb 13.jpg

               Jaali work, tomb of Akbar complex, 17th century, Agra.

 

Tomb of I’timād-ud-Daulah

          Mirza Ghiyas Beg also known by his title of I’timad-ud-Daulah  was a vizier in the Mughal empire, whose children served as wives, mothers, and generals of the Mughal emperors.He was the father of the famous ‘Nur-Jehan’ and grand father of ‘Mumtaz-Mahal’ of the Taj Mahal fame. He was made ”Vazir” after Nur Jehan ‘s marriage with Jehangir in 1611.

Related image

I’timad-ud-Daulah, painting, 18th century.

Agra-Itmad ud Daulah mausoleum-South facade-20131019.jpg

Tomb of I’timād-ud-Daulah, 17th century, Agra.

Agra-Itmad ud Daulah mausoleum-South doorway and jalis-20131019.jpg

Tomb of I’timād-ud-Daulah, 17th century, Agra.

Image result for Mirza Ghiyas Beg

Detail, 8-pointed star pattern, tomb of I’timād-ud-Daulah, 17th century, Agra.

Baby Taj-05.jpg

Detail, tomb of I’timād-ud-Daulah, a quarter of each 6-point star is shown in each corner; half stars along the sides, 17th century, Agra.

Enterance of Itmad-Ud-Daula.jpg

Gate, arabesques on spandrelsTomb of I’timād-ud-Daulah, 17th century, Agra.

Grills of the masoleoum of Itmad-ud-Daulah's tomb 2.jpg

Jaali design with 6 point stars and arabesques on the sides, tomb of I’timād-ud-Daulah, 17th century, Agra.

Design and art... Itmad-ud-daulah's tomb.JPG

Arabesques on exteriors, tomb of I’timād-ud-Daulah, 17th century, Agra.

 

 

References :

 

 

 

Posted by

 

Soma Ghosh

 

©author

 

 

 

 

Ganjifa : playing cards from medieval times

       Playing games is an important part of many world cultures including India. Children play naturally and devise games of their own. Adult games have been devised using creative skills and artistic expression.  The word ”ganj” means treasure or treasury which went on to refer to granary in Persian. The term represents playing cards and card games in India, Nepal, Iran, Turkey and few Arabian countries. Card playing was and still is popular in India and many other countries. Ganjifa cards were circular or rectangular, and traditionally hand-painted by artisans. The earliest references are to the Mamluk cards from Egypt, first mentioned in Annals of Egypt and Syria by Yousuf ibn-Taghribirdi, an Egyptian historian born into the Turkish Mamluk elite of Cairo in the 15th century. The Topkapi Museum in Istanbul, Turkey has a set of Mamluk playing cards datable to 1500s. The set consists of four suits of 13 cards each; cups,swords, coins and polo sticks including one Malik or king, a Naib and Thani Naib – Governor and Vice- Governor. These actually depict the officers at the court of a Mamluk Sultan or Amir; the cup-bearer, the commander of the palace guard, the exchequer and the polo-master or jukandar.  Mamluk, Italian, Persian and Indian cards might have a common origin; the exact source is not clear. it might have originated in the West or the East. The pack of cards is sometimes believed to have its origins in the four sided chaturanga, a dice game and a precursor of chess. King Shah Abbas II of Persia had banned the game (1642-67).

File:Mamluk kanjifah cards.png

Mamluk playing cards  or kanjifah, from left to right: 6 of coins, 10 of polo sticks, 3 of cups and 7 of swords, 16th century.

     The earliest playing cards known in India were most probably introduced by early Muslim rulers. The game became popular at the Mughal court during the 16th and 17th century, and lavish sets were made, from materials such as precious stone-inlaid ivory or tortoise shell ; darbar-kalam, by court artists. The game later spread to the general public, and less expensive sets; bazaar-kalam by other artists would be made from materials such as wood, palm leaf, stiffened cloth or pasteboard.

Image result for ganjifa images

In the royal palace of Sawantwadi, skilled craftsmen hand painting Ganjifa cards, Maharashtra, maybe early 20th century.

     Mughal Ganjifa was similar to the Safavid game in terms of suits and ranks. In the 17th century ”Dashavatara” ganjifa was created to appeal to the Hindu populace. The main development of  the game of Ganjjfa happened in India. The Indian cards depict variety and the number of suits can vary from 8 to 10, 12 or 20. Ganjifa cards have coloured backgrounds, with each suit having a different colour. The compositions on many Ganjifa cards resemble small miniature paintings. Different types are found, the designs, number of suits, and physical size of the cards can vary considerably. With the exception of Mamluk kanjifah and the Chads of Mysore, each suit contains ten pip cards and two court cards, the king and the vizier or minister. The backs of the cards are typically a uniform colour, without patterning. Card players expect a constancy in design in packs. The Rajasthani cards show a Mughal influence, Mysore and Cuddapah depict Nayak styles and the cards from Odisha have folk patterns. It is called dashabatar taas in Bishnupur, West Bengal. The painters of the cards are called chitrakars. 

 

Image result for ganjifa images

 A king handing a ”Royal Document” to his minister, King of the Barat or Document suit, playing card from a Mughal Ganjifa set, Rajasthan, India, LACMA, U S A,19th century.

       Playing cards are put in painted boxes which are made of light wood and have different subjects painted on them ranging from flowers, women, mythological themes and animal figures. However, slowly by the end of the 20th century printed cards became popular. The modern printed packs made the older hand painted cards obsolete and so also the games associated with them.

Indian_Ganjifa_Card_Set_1_-600x579

Ganjifa box with ornate designs, 19th century. Image source : Michael BackmanLtd, U.K.

File:Five Galloping Elephants, Number Six of the Gajpati (Lord of Elephants) Suit, Playing Card from a Mughal Ganjifa Set LACMA M.73.55.10.jpg

Five galloping elephants, Number six of the Gajpati or Lord of Elephants suit, playing card from a Mughal Ganjifa Set, Rajasthan, India, 19th century, LACMA, U S A.  

File:Krishna Preparing to Decapitate King Kamsa, King of the Krishna Suit, Playing Card from a Dashavatara (Ten Avatars) Ganjifa Set LACMA M.73.55.3.jpg

Lord Krishna preparing to decapitate King Kamsa, King of the Krishna suit, playing card from a Dashavatara ganjifa set, Sawantwadi,  Maharashtra, mid-18th century, LACMA, U S A.

File:Enthroned and Crowned Buddha Holding Lotuses, King of the Buddha Suit, Playing Card from a Dashavatara (Ten Avatars) Ganjifa Set LACMA M.73.55.1.jpg

Enthroned and crowned Buddha holding Lotuses, King of the Buddha suit, playing card from a Dashavatara ganjifa set, Rajasthan, India, 19th century,  LACMA, U S A.

       There are many variants of Ganjifa. The Mughal Ganjifa, the Dashavatara Ganjifa, the Ramayan Ganjifa, the Rashi Ganjifa, The ashtamalla Ganjifa, the Naqsh Ganjifa, the Mysore Chad Ganjifa. Ahli Shirazi wrote Rubaiyat-e-ganjifa’ for each of the 96 cards in a eight suit pack. The game is mentioned in Ain-i- Akbari, the record of Emperor Akbar’s reign. In fact there was a variety of Ganjifa called Akbar’s Ganjifa.

File:Mughal Ganjiya Playing Cards, Early 19th century, courtesy the Wovensouls collection.jpg

Mughal ganjifa playing cards, early 19th century,  Wovensouls Textiles and Arts Gallery.

File:Puri Odisha.JPG

Playing cards made with the traditional pattachitra technique from Puri, Odisha, India.

File:A King in an Elephant-drawn Carriage.jpg

A king in an elephant-drawn carriage, King of the Ghulam or Slave or Servant  suit, playing card from a Mughal ganjifa set, 19th century, LACMA, U S A.

File:A Woman with Seven Documents, Number Seven of the Barat (Document) Suit, Playing Card from a Mughal Ganjifa Set LACMA M.73.55.6.jpg

A woman with Seven Documents, number seven of the Barat or Document suit, playing card from a Mughal ganjifa set, Rajasthan,  19th century, LACMA, U S A.

 

References :

  • Ganjifa: the playing cards of India/Leyden, Rudolf Von, London : Victoria and Albert Museum, 1980
  • wikipedia.org
  • Images are from Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

Posted by:

 

Soma Ghosh

 

©author

Decorative book covers : some Indian images

         Books have always been an important part of human culture used to  communicate, inform and entertain. There are different types of books, some printed and some in manuscript form. The decorative element in book covers and book binding has been important in bindings of yore. Combining beauty and strength has been a historical practice.  One  of the definitions of book binding states it as a term applied to any process for making a book by fastening together printed or un-printed sheets of paper and providing them in this compact form with a suitable covering. Book covers can be made of paper, cloth or leather. Around 100 B.C in India religious sutras were bound together which were written on palm leaf  which were numbered, had a hole and a twine passing through them. From then on book-binding travelled a long way, with the introduction of the codex, leather tooling, wood covers giving way to pasteboards, dust jackets, cloth covers, case bindings, gild bindings, glass bindings and ornate bindings using ivory.  In India, writing was done on stone, metal, shells and earthenware.  Also wooden board,  birch-bark palm-leaves, cotton cloths and paper was used. Engraving, embossing, painting and scratching methods were used for writing. Showcased are some book bindings from the Indian subcontinent.

      This pair of wooden covers protected the palm-leaf folios of a Buddhist sacred text. One cover has the nine Buddhist goddesses, each holding a staff surmounted by the wish-fulfilling jewel or chintamani, while the other cover has the five transcendental Buddhas flanked by four bodhisattvas. Painted on the interior, the iconography offers a protective field to the holy text within, in this case likely the Perfection of Wisdom text, the Ashtasathasrika Prajnaparamita Sutra.

Image result for palm leaf manuscripts

Wooden cover of manuscripts, Met Museum, New York , Public Domain image.

Image result for palm leaf manuscripts

Palm leaf manuscript, Bhagavat Gita, Grantha script, 18th century, Public Domain image.

File:The middle figure is an Indian scribe who is writing in palm leaves.jpg

The middle figure is “an Indian scribe” who is writing on palm leaves, engraving from F. J. Bertuch’s ‘Bilderbuch fur Kinder’, Weimar, 1790-1830, Public domain image.

      The book cover is of lacquer binding with central floral design of an illustrated and illuminated copy of the collection of poems or divan by Shams al-Din Muḥammad Hafiz al Shirazi (flourished during 13th century AH / 14th century,  produced in India, most probably Kashmir, in the 19th century.

Image result for book bindings india

Book cover, Divan of Shiraz, Kashmir, 19th century.

Source : Walters Art Museum, Public domain image.

     The image below depicts a binding from most probably the 13th century AH/19th century. The binding is composed of lacquer and is decorated with a floral design covering the whole surface of the boards.

File:Anonymous - Binding from Yusuf and Zulaykha - Walters W646binding - Bottom Interior.jpg

Book binding, 19th century, India.

Walters Art Museum [Public domain or Public domain]

File:Palm Leaf Manuscript and Wooden Covers with Symbols of Sixteen Pilgrimage Sites LACMA M.91.300.3a-c (3 of 3).jpg

File:Palm Leaf Manuscript and Wooden Covers with Symbols of Sixteen Pilgrimage Sites LACMA M.91.300.3a-c (2 of 3).jpg

Wooden Covers of palm leaf manuscript and with symbols of sixteen pilgrimage sites, Sri Lanka,19th century, LACMA, U S A , Public Domain images.

File:Singhalese Manuscripts. Wellcome L0023506.jpg

Seen above is the end board of a Sinhalese palm-leaf manuscripts transcribed in 1874. This example is of a lac-worked Kandyan book cover comprising the traditional motifs of a string knot at either end with a single vine scroll between the punched holes and a flower around each hole with a diamond chip motif  border, Sri Lanka, 19th century, Wellcome images, Public domain image.

 

References :

 

Posted by:

Soma Ghosh

©author

Temples at Melkote : abode of legends

       Melkote or Melukote is in the Mandya district of Karnataka, about 50 km from Mysuru in Karnataka, in South India. Another name for Melkote is Thirunarayanapuram. The town is on hills Yadugiri, Yaadavagiri and Yaidushiladeepa. The temples are ancient and  the area was under the Vijayanagara rulers. The Cheluvanarayanaswamy temple and another temple Yoga Narasimha temple is on the hilltop. Srivaishnavaite saint Sri Ramanujacharya stayed here for 14 years in 12th century. The Cheluvanarayanswamy temple is a square temple dedicated to Cheluvanarayana or Thirunarayana.  The presiding deity has many legends surrounding it. it is believed that Lord Rama and generations of kings and Lord Krishna and generations of kings have worshipped the deity.  This image which was lost was recovered by Sri Ramanujacharya who worshipped in the shrine. The temple has a collection of jewels which are brought out from Govt. custody during the Vairamudi festival every year.

       The  Cheluvanaryanswamy temple is richly endowed, having the patronage of the Rajas of Mysore. In 1614, King Raja Wodeyar I (ruled 1578–1617), who first acquired Srirangapatnam and accepted the Srivaishnava priest as his guru, handed over to the temple and to the Brahmins at Melkote, the estate granted to him by Vijayanagara Emperor Venkatapati Raya. While that estate was lost when Zamindari was abolished in the 1950s, the temple still possesses many properties and valuables, in particular an extremely valuable collection of jewels. On one of the pillars of navaranga of the Cheluva Narayanaswami temple is a bas-relief about one and a half feet high, of Raja Wodeyar, standing with folded hands, with his name inscribed on the base. He was said to have been a great devotee of the presiding deity and a frequent visitor to the temple. A gold crown set with precious jewels was presented by him to the temple. This crown is known as the Raja-mudi (royal crown), a play on the name of Raja Wodeyar, the donor. According to legend, King Raja Wodeyar was last observed entering the sanctum sanctorum of the Lord on the day of his death, and was seen no more afterwards. From the inscriptions on some of the gold jewels and on gold and silver vessels in the temple it is learnt that they were presents from Krishnaraja Wadiyar III and his queens. Krishnaraja Wodeyar III also presented to the temple a crown set with precious jewels. It is known after him as Krishnaraja-mudi. The Vairamudi, the diamond crown, is older than  Raja-mudi and the Krishnaraja-mudi. However, it is not known who presented it to the temple.Tipu Sultan had donated elephants to the temple.

         The Yoga Narasimhaswamy temple on top of the hill is dedicated to Lord Yoga Narsimha. As per legend the image was installed by Prahlada himself. There is large pond at the temple. Krishnaraja Wodeyar III of Mysore presented a gold crown to Lord Yoga Narasimha. The images depicted show the beautiful  sculpted gateway and sculptures at the temples on the vimana and  pillars.

Melukotetemple.jpg

Yoga Narasimha temple, Melkote.

By Philanthropist 1 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13254334

File:Lion carving in melkote.jpg

Carved lions, Melkote.

By Sbblr0803 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia CommonsFile:Melukote- Gateway.JPG

Gateway, Rayagopura, Cheluvanarayanswamy temple, Melkote.

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

 

File:Melukote- Sculptures of the beautiful dancers.JPG

Sculpture, Melkote.

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

File:Yoga Narasimha.JPG

Yoga Narasimha Temple, Melkote.

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

File:Close up view of the decorated vimana of Sri Cheluvanarayana Swamy Temple, Melkote.jpg

Vimana, Chevulanarayanaswamy temple, Melkote.

By Bikashrd (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

File:Ornate pillars in a mantapa in the Cheluvarayaswamy temple at Melukote.jpg

Carved pillars, Cheluvanarayana temple, Melkote.

Dineshkannambadi at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

File:Melukote- Sacred Tank.JPG

Temple tank, Cheluvanarayaswamy temple, Melkote.

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

File:Melukote- Sculptures at Cheluvanarayana Temple.JPG

Pillar, Cheluvanarayana temple, Melkote.

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

 

References :

  • The Narayanswami temple at Melkote/ Vasantha, R, Mysore : Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, 1991.
  • wikipedia.org

 

 

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

©author

 

Panchatantra in art : some depictions

           Panchatantra literally means five treatises. It is an ancient collection of animal fables. The animals have human virtues and vices. The original text is believed to be in Sanskrit prose and verse.  It has been dated to 300 B.C  and attributed to Vishnusharma, an octagenarian Brahmin who is mentioned in the prelude of the text of many translations that are available. Some sources mention Vasubhaga as the creator of the inter-related animal fables. The illustrations depicted below show some fables from the sub books of the Panchatantra.

Panchatantra manuscript, The Birds Try to Beat Down the Ocean, watercolor on paper, Rajasthan, India, 18th century. 

By Artist/maker unknown, India (18th century) – Philadelphia Museum of Arts: http://www.philamuseum.org/collections/results.html?searchTxt=panchatantra, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=61455723

        The Panchatantra has been widely translated into as many as 50 languages across the world. Most European versions of the text are derivative works of the 12th-century Hebrew version of Panchatantra by Rabbi Joel. In 550 A.D it was translated into Pahlavi by Burzoa. In 750 A.D an Arabic translation Kalila wa Dimnah was done by Abdullah Ibn-al-Muqaffa. In the 12th century a Persian translation by Rudaki was titled  Kalileh-o-Damneh. In the 15th century Anwar-i-suhayli in Persian by Kashefi was done which was known as The fables of Bidpai in European languages. It was translated into English by Arthur Ryder in 1925.

18th century Panchatantra manuscript page, The Elephants Trample the Hares picture.jpg

Panchatantra manuscript, The elephants trample the hares, watercolour,18th century.

By Artist/maker unknown, India (18th century) – Philadelphia Museum of Arts: http://www.philamuseum.org/collections/results.html?searchTxt=panchatantra, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=61455729

     The Panchatantra is for the learning of niti or appropriate moral conduct by three ignorant princes. The Panchatantra consists of five parts, each having a main story. Each story contains sub-stories. The titles of the sub-books are Mitrabheda, Mitralabha, Kakolukiyam, Labdhapranasam and Apariksitakaram.

Mitrabheda is the story of Damanaka who is an unemployed minister in a lion’s kingdom. Along with Karataka he conspires and breaks up aalaiances of the king. The book has over 30 fables.  Mitralabha is a collection of the adventures of a crow, a mouse, a turtle and a deer. This book focuses on the importance of friendship and alliances. It has ten fables.

8th century Panchatantra reliefs at Mallikarjuna temple, Pattadakal Hindu monuments Karnataka.jpg

Panchatantra reliefs, Mallikarjuna temple, Pattadakal, Karnataka, 8th century.

By Ms Sarah Welch (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

     Kakolukiyam is  a treatise which focuses on war and peace. It points out that a battle of wits is more powerful than a battle of swords. it has 18 fables. Labdhapranasam is a compilation of ancient fables full of moral teachings. It is a guide on what not to do. It has 13 fables in the translation by Arthur Ryder.  Apariksitakaram  is acollection of moral filled fables. The characters are human beings. It has 12 fables in the translation into English by Arthur  Ryder. The stories are titled The loss of friends, The lion and the carpenter, The unteachable monkey, The monkey and the crocodile among many others in the five sub books.

8th century Panchatantra legends panels at Virupaksha Shaivism temple, Pattadakal Hindu monuments Karnataka 2.jpg

Panchatantra panel, Virupaksha temple, Pattadakal, Karnataka, 8th century .

By Ms Sarah Welch (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 ‘Panchatantra’ relief ,Mendut temple, Central Java, Indonesia.

By Original uploader was BesselDekker at nl.wikipedia – Transferred from nl.wikipedia; transferred to Commons by User:Shreevatsa using CommonsHelper., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5836212

A page from the 18th-century Panchatantra manuscript, Rajasthan India.jpg

Panchatantra manuscript, Rajasthan,18th century.

By Artist/maker unknown, India (18th century) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

References:

 

 

 

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

©author