Overview for Riddle of Indian Iconography
The rare icon, generally known as image of Siva, was discovered from tala, on 17th January 1988. The image attracted the attention of scholars and general inquisitives, due to its gigantic size and peculiar depictions. The renowned art historian Professor Pramod Chandra, who was present during the clearance of the image, then expressed, "The image will be a problem for iconographists for a century at least". The identification of the image was certainly a challenging task, as such an image was neither referred to in any text nor any art specimen was known. Dr. K.K. Chakravarty was one of the poineers, who tried to identify the image. Besides him a few more scholars too have probed into the problem of the identification of the image. The editor has also contributed a paper entitled, "The image of Siva from tala : issues in interpretation of symbols therein." In this paper, the description of the image, important views expressed by various scholars and humble submission of the author were elucidated. I felt, this preliminary publication of mine was simply a "monologue" and work done was not sufficient to understand the image from iconographic point of view. Therefore some more discussions on the image was essential. I wanted to convert monologue into dialogue/conversation. Therefore, I proposed a paper seminar on the image and requested the reputed scholars of indology and art-history to express their valuable observations in form of a paper. As the image has complicated characteristics, more light on the iconography in particular alongwith the allied aspects in general were desired in the seminar. The investigation on one image by a group of scholars breaking the barriers of boundaries of nations was an unusual idea. For this purpose the editor's preliminary publication was taken as a key paper and was circulated to the scholars. As a result, though too late, the zetetic on the rare icon from tala has come to the fore in the present form which reveals the views of the contributors at one place. From the present monograph, it is clear that there is no consensus among the contributors regarding the identification of the gigantic image from tala and it is still an enigma. Hence, the volume is entitled as, Riddle of Indian Iconography : Zetetic on the Rare Icon from Tala. The volume consists of fourteen papers including the key paper of mine. Before starting a discussion on the image, to introduce the region and its art-traditions, it is preferred to include a part "Introduction". In this part, we have discussed the geographical and historical background of Kosala, the art-tradition of the region alongwith art-heritage of tala in brief. These issues are not directly concerned with the problem of the image from tala, therefore not discussed in detail. The question regarding the identification and significance of the symbols therein (of the image) is not finally solved. Hence some more work on the image will be required. The present work will certainly pave the way for the researchers of the future. The author of these lines would also like to continue further discussion on this issue. Another volume on this unique image would therefore definitely appear in future.
L.S. Nigam (Editor)
L.S. Nigam obtained his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Ravishanker University, Raipur. He has been teaching Ancient Indian History, Culture & Archaeology at Graduate and Post-Graduate levels for several years. He has to his credit three books and many research papers on Numismatics, Art History, Historical Geography and Political History. He has participated in many national and international seminars including Conference of the College Art Association of America held in Los Angeles (USA). Currently Dr. Nigam teaches at govt. College, Chankar Nagar, Raipur (M.P.0 and is the Co-convenor of Raipur regional chapter of INTACH.