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Architectural Motifs in Early Mediaeval Art of Eastern India (Pala-Sena Period)

Sudipa Bandyopadhyay (Author)
Synopsis The present study on architectural motifs in the early mediaeval art of Eastern India focuses mainly on the art of Bihar and undivided Bengal from the eighth to the thirteenth century AD. Historically this period is referred to as the Pala-Sena age. Art from other regions of Eastern India (like Orissa and Assam) during the contemporary period have been excluded from this study because there are several extent monuments in these areas that provide us with a fair idea of the architecture of the period. But unfortunately, there are no surviving edifices of the Pala-Sena age to provide us with a glimpse of the architectural style of the period. Though the absence of extant edifices forms a major constraint in the proper appreciation of Pala-Sena architecture, the study of the various architectural motifs depicted in the art objects of the period yields rewarding results. The present book aims at an intensive analysis and perceptive evaluation of the architectural motifs appearing in the rich art repertory of the Pala-Sena period. The book embodies the results of my study of all known and hitherto unknown materials garnered over the last twelve years. A chunk of them I have gathered through my field trips and visits to different museums and private collections. After a critical examination they have been cogently arrayed and appropriately placed in different chapters under different heads. The first chapter deals with the definition and scope of architectural motifs in Indian art and the development of architectural motif as an element of art composition in the pre-Pala art tradition. The chapter also includes a survey of the relevant archaeological sites of Eastern India that have yielded a rish harvest of art materials bearing architectural motifs of various descriptions. The second chapter gives an overview of the field-area of the present investigation. A cursory survey of the various territorial divisions of Eastern India in the ancient and early mediaeval periods is followed by a brief history of the pre-Pala-Sena and other minor ruling dynastries of Bengal and Bihar form the earliest times to the middle of the thirteenth century. The third chapter dwells on the classification of architectural motifs in Pala-Sena art based on materials used, thematic representation and stylistic formalisation. This preliminary classification is followed by a formal analysis of architectural motifs like stupa, deul, independent khattaka and torana in their full forms. The chapter also contains a formal analysis of various architectural components, like arch, pillar, niche and chaitya-window. The fourth chapter offers a comparative study. Architectural motifs depicted in the art of the period have been compared with those of contemporary Orissa, Assam, Meghalaya and such extra-Indian territories as Nepal, Tibet, China, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Java.
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About the author

Sudipa Bandyopadhyay

Sudipa Bandyopadhyay is presently Senior Lecturer in the Department of Ancent Indian History and Culture, Calcutta University. She has also taught for some time in the Folklore Department of Kalyani University. Bandyopadhyay stood first class first in the M.A. Examination in Ancient Indian History and Culture in 1988 from Calcutta University. She was a junior Research Fellow of Indian Council of Historical Research, New Delhi and was awarded Ph.D. degree in 1996 from Calcutta University. She has participated in National and Inter-University seminars on various aspects of the art and culture of Eastern India. Many of her articles have been published in reputed journals. She is at present working on a monograph Early Metal Sculptures of Lower Bengal.

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Bibliographic information

Title Architectural Motifs in Early Mediaeval Art of Eastern India (Pala-Sena Period)
Format Hardcover
Date published: 01.01.2002
Edition 1st ed.
Publisher R.N. Bhattacharya
Language: English
isbn 818766116X
length xiv+161p., Figures; Plates; Maps; References; Glossary; Bibliography; Index; 28cm.