South Indian Temple Sculpture - Informative & researched article on South Indian Temple Sculpture
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South Indian Temple Sculpture
South Indian Temple Sculpture evolved primarily on the idiom of the Dravidian architecture.
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 South Indian Temple SculptureSouth Indian Temple sculpture comprises of the sculptures of temples of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. These states have been rule d by various dynasties which include Pallavas, Chalukyas, Viajayanagar Empire, Kakatiyas, Cholas, Rashtrakutas and Gangas. The essence of these sculptures is such that these can bestow a completely separate identity to the temple building idiom in India.

The south Indian temple sculpture received an added boost under the reign of the Cholas and Chalukyas. While the Vijayanagara Empire immortalised their art and sculpture on stone in Hampi, kingdoms of Chalukyas and Cholas are renowned for their massive temples. These beautiful buildings even today spell out the grandeur and splendour that once accompanied them.

Another special feature of the south Indian temple sculpture is the miniature towers. Sculptors of Vijaynagara Empire used soapstone as it is soft and easily carved. During the Vijayanagar period the local hard granite was preferred in the Badami Chalukya style though soapstone was used for a few reliefs and sculptures. The use of granite reduced the density of sculptured works. As granite is prone to flaking, few pieces of individual sculptures reached the high levels of quality seen in previous centuries. In order to cover the unevenness of the stone used in sculptures, artists employed plaster to give the rough surface a smooth finish and painted it thereafter with lively colours.

Sculptures of erotic art, nature and deities from the Madurai Meenakshi Temple, Chidambaram Thillai Nataraja Temple and the Srirangam Ranganathaswamy Temple in Tamil Nadu belong to the Sangam period. Chola sculpture drew inspiration from the sculptures of the Pallavas. Pallavas ruled Tamilnadu from 6th century AD to 9th century AD. The Pallava period introduced a new phase in art along with the Pandyas in the south. They sought novel ways of artistic expression. Their range of sculptural compositions was incredible. They are best at relief sculptures. One can find originality in treatment of the sculptures of Pallava era. Mamallapuram is the greatest example of sculptures of Pallava.

Rock cut temple sculpture is mainly the contribution of Rashtrakutas. Their sculptures have element of Jainism and Buddhism. However there are temples whose walls depict incidents from the mythology. The figure sculptures of dancers, musicians, gods and goddesses from Hindu Puranas, nymphs and others are common on the outer walls of these rock cut caves.

Sculptures of Chalukya origin are found in the village of Gangaikondacholapuram. In fact their sculpture is mostly found in the state of Karnataka. Gomateshwara monolith was commissioned by Chavundaraya is considered as the highlight of the sculpture of Ganga dynasty in Karnataka. It has been carved from fine-grained white granite and the image stands on a lotus.

The Kakatiya dynasty of Warangal gave equal importance to architecture and sculpture. The most important temples built by the dynasty are those at Palampeta, Hanamkonda and the incomplete one in the Warangal fort. The sculptures of the dancing girls possess the suggestion of movement and vivacious life.

(Last Updated on : 02/04/2012)
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