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Wall Paintings of Banaras: Treasures from Mahamaya Temple

Kamal Giri (Author)

Since remote past the temples of Banaras represent the synthesis of varied cultural streams. As far as wall paintings are concerned, the city was an acclaimed centre, the tradition of which continues till today on different occasions to beautify the temples, mathas, akhadas, and residential buildings. These paintings may be divided between religious and social or secular groups.

The Mahamaya temple is unique for its architecture as well as paintings inside the garbhagrha. The subjects of the paintings are narratives, divine figures, lokapalas, saints and rsis, valour of devis, day to day life of local people, nature etc. showing regional influence. The paintings enhance our understanding of the 18th and 19th century wall paintings of Banaras with various styles like Rajasthani, late Mughal and Company including Banaras painting style with folk impressions.

For the study of Sakti cult and other divinities, the aesthetic appeal of the figures and stylistic confluence of Rajasthani, late Mughal, Company, Nepali and folk style from Banaras, the temple is unique. However, the Rajasthani style dominates with the blend of other styles.

The paintings in Mahamaya temple are basically based on Devi Bhagvata Purana. The murals represent an elaborately organized pictorial programme that finds no counterpart in the paintings preserved elsewhere in the city. The paintings are in square or circular shape panels, captioned as deodhis of different metals like gold, silver, iron, bronze, copper, lead, pancadhatu and of precious stones like Pusparagamani, Gomedaka, Diamond, Vaiduryamani, Indranila, Moti, Mahamarakatamani, Pravala and Navaratna.

The lokapalas, with vahanas and iconographical details are given adequate place in the paintings. Besides Mahakali and Durga, saints and male-female devotees have an important place. In miscellaneous scenes upasakas, music, gardening, cooking etc. are depicted.

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About the author

Kamal Giri

Prof. Kamal Giri, Hon. Joint Director, Jnana-Pravaha-Centre for Cultural Studies, Varanasi, recently retired from the Department of History of Art, Banaras Hindu University after completing thirty-three years of teaching assignment. She has published more than 100 research papers on different aspects of Indian Art and Culture and presented papers in the seminars in India and abroad. She has five books to her credit on Indian Art and Culture and presented papers in the seminars in India and abroad. She has five books to her credit on Indian Art and Culture. She has been the Assistant Editor of Chhavi: Felicitation Volume of Rai Krishnadas (1981) and the Editor of Khajuraho in Perspective (1994). She has also been editing Kala: The Journal of Indian Art History Congress since 1995-96.

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Bibliographic information

Title Wall Paintings of Banaras: Treasures from Mahamaya Temple
Author Kamal Giri
Format Hardcover
Date published: 08.06.2022
Language: English
isbn 9788173056307
length xvi+70p., Illustrations; 28cm.