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Kanara: A Land Apart: The Artistic Heritage of Coastal Karnataka

George Michell (Editor) Clare Arni (Photography)

This book is dedicated to the unique architectural and artistic heritage of Kanara or Kannada, the well watered, densely forested Arabian Sea coastal strip of Karnataka, comprising the present-day districts of Dakshina and Uttara Kannada. Celebrated as one of India’s principal sources of rice and pepper, Kanara benefited through the centuries from lucrative interregional and international trade. In consequence, the region has been inhabited by wealthy and remarkably diverse communities, many of which have acted as patrons of architecture and art. This is reflected in the broad range of surviving sacred monuments and ritual objects, from ancient Buddhist relics and Jain and Hindu temples filled with stone and metal sculptures, to mosques and churches. Many of these places of worship are built in a characteristic indigenous idiom, with steeply angled tiled roofs supported on timber frameworks to deflect the heavy rainfall. The same is also true of village mansions and the mathas associated with Hindu and Jain institutions. Kanara is also home to distinctive local religious practices, most notably the cult of bhutas, or folk spirits. The bhuta rites that still take place in Kanara have resulted in a series of wooden figures and metal masks of striking appearance. To these manifestations of vernacular culture must be added the Yakshagana, Kanara’s celebrated living theatre, even though this is not covered in the present volume.

In spite of the unique value of these diverse and vibrant traditions, Kanara’s extraordinary heritage remains virtually unknown outside Karnataka. The present volume aims at correcting this oversight. The region’s splendid shrines and temples, mosques and churches, mansions and mathas, along with sculptures and art objects are brought to light here through contributions by art historians and scholars, along with stunning photographs by Clare Arni.

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About the author

George Michell

George Michell obtained his PhD in the field of early western Chalukya temple architecture from the School of Oriental African Studies, University of London, in 1974. From 1974 to 1977, he directed courses on Asian architecture at the Architectural Association, London, and was the co-editor of Art and Archaeology Research Papers from 1972 to 1982. Since the 1980s, he has co-directed an international team of scholars and students at Vijayanagara, the medieval Hindu site in Karnataka. George Michell has also lectured at universities and museums throughout the USA, Europe, India and Australia. Among his many Publications are The Royal Palaces of India, Islamic Heritage of the Deccan, Architecture of the Islamic World: Its History and Social Meaning and Hindu Art and Architecture.

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Bibliographic information

Title Kanara: A Land Apart: The Artistic Heritage of Coastal Karnataka
Format Hardcover
Date published: 31.12.2012
Edition 1st. ed.
Publisher Marg Publications
Language: English
isbn 819211063X, 9788192110639
length 124p., Illustrations; Chiefly Colour; Colour; M ap; 32cm.