(Last Updated on : 07/11/2012)
Sculpture of Khajuraho temple clouded by an aura of smoothness and softness, depiction of the human body in various sensuous postures is very widely found here. As Taj Mahal is subject to the perceiving changes to the eyes of the beholder, even Khajuraho separates its extremes of illusion and reality. The name Khajuraho, ancient "Kharjuravahaka", has its etymological roots in the Sanskrit words kharjura = date palm and vahaka = "one who carries". The foundation of Khajuraho Temples has a myth that whispers and echoes within the temple frescos. It states that the Moon God seduced a beautiful Brahmin girl- Hemavati in a lustful fit of licentious obsession. Consequently, Chandravarman, the founder of the Chandela dynasty was born. In his dream Hemavati asked him to establish a temple enlightening all facets of album of passion and erotic fancy to the humankind. Therefore, he built Khajuraho temples in his capital city.The figures not sculpt in shadow of the well built and muscular Greek sculptures reveal that the sculptor has made an attempt to bring out the beauty of the human body. The external carvings categorically possess art of sensuous nature.
The mid tenth century sculptures from the ancient temples of Khajuraho, such as the Parashvanatha and Lakshmana temple, represent the subtle warmth of classical Indian modelling. The Vishvanatha temple has perfectly proportioned and poised figures. Some temples, which follow the Devi Jagadamba and the Chitragupta, retain the rounded Jagadamba Temple modelling and the graceful forms. In the Kandariya Mahadeva, the figures are towards slender and tall form, some of them revolve round their own axis. In the Duladeva temple, we find human forms with sharp angles, pointed features and lavish ornamentation. In spite of many of the statues losing their vitality, yet some of the flying figures on the wall and the bracket statues still have signs of the past vigour.
These sculptures portray various themes showing pure divinity not affected by sexual desires but the other characteristics of the mortal physicality as well. Sexual activities between people are also shown as well as the common Indians also form the part and parcel of these sculptures. For example, it shows women putting on makeup. Some show musicians, potters, farmers, and other folk. The mundane scenes are all at some distance from the temple deities. The Khajuraho temples do not enclose sexual erotica within the temple confines; in total contrast to the external art carvings. They expose that, for seeing the deity, one must abscond his or her sexual requirements outside the temple premises.
The sculptures in the Khajuraho temples can be classified into eight categories:
* The Cult Icons: Installed in the sanctum, these are generally sculpted, in strict accordance with prescribed conventions of the Shilpashastra having a halo and a host of attending figures, hierarchically arranged in frames of steles. The best specimen is undoubtedly the 2.75 m. (9 ft.) high image in the Chaturbhuja temple. This exceptional icon is shown in tribhanga (three bends of the body), while the icons in other temples stand erect in sarnabhanga. The colossal statue of Parvati performing penance, now in the Museum, and those of the Jain Tirthankaras in meditative postures are also interesting cult icons.
* The Surrounding Figures: Built either in the ground or on a high relief, these figures are generally seen in the prominent corners of the temples; steal the show .The images of the Dikpalas, in the eight directions of the temple and those of Shiva and Vishnu on the exterior walls stand with ease in tribhanga carrying weapons in their hands in accordance with the scriptures. They look like humans, but are distinguished by the shrivatsa (diamond-like mark) on their chests, crowned head-dresses, long strands of hair reaching below the knees, and their vahanas at their feet.
* Dynamic Figures: The figures of the demi-gods such as the vidyadharas, gandharvas, ganas are generally carved on the top row of the wall, perhaps symbolizing the celestial world. The flying vidyadharas surround the divine figures with garlands. The playful ganas are found on doorjambs and pedestals of Shaivite images. Four armed dwarfs are seen on the pillar brackets of all the temples, and a few even have comical facial expressions.
* Generally Themed Sculptures: These are depicting the royal hunt, the king at court, marching armies, domestic scenes, teacher and pupils, dance processions, a dancer conversing with an Acharya sculptors at work, traders with camels, and others are shown in relief panels placed on the platform of the Lakshmana temple and on the narathara row on the plinth of the temples.
* Animal Figures: These include the mythical vyala, a creature with a lion`s body and the head of different creatures such as a parrot, an elephant, a boar and others. The vyala is a typical motif of medieval temple art. Elephants are depicted in a row on the basement of the Lakshmana temple and as large figures in the round, placed near the entrance of the Vishvanatha temple. Nandi, Shiva`s bull, is one of the most magnificent animal representations carved from a single huge stone, and sheltered in a specially built mandapa (pavilion), facing the Vishvanatha temple.
* Apsaras / Surasundaris: Khajuraho temples have various themes related to celestial nymphs` women and they are represented on walls, pillar-brackets and other architectural parts of Surasundaristhe temple. Various everyday activities of women are portrayed such as applying make-up, removing a thorn from the foot, tying or untying the waist girdle, rinsing water from wet hair, writing a letter, playing a game of ball, carrying a baby, and dancing. The apsaras and surasundaris of Khajuraho and other medieval temples are auspicious motifs whose origin can be traced to vegetation spirits (Yakshis) and fertility figures of early Indian art. These celestial women are shown in front, back and side views, engaged in various activities rejuvenating the classical aroma.
* Mithunas / Romantic: Couples and erotic groups have provided additional importance to Khajuraho.
* Geometric and floral designs are carved on the ceilings, on the borders of panels and walls, on pillars and elsewhere. The lotus is an important motif in ceiling decorations and on pedestals of divinities.