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Sculpture Masterpieces from Orissa - Style and Iconography

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Item Code: NAY900
Author: K.S. Behera & Thomas E. Donaldson
Publisher: Aryan Books International
Language: English
Edition: 2021
ISBN: 9788173051319
Pages: 274 (Throughout B/w Illustrations)
Other Details 11.50 X 9.00 inch
Weight 1.29 kg
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Book Description
About the Book
The state of Orissa (Odisha), in the southeast coast of India, is known for its rich heritage in art and architecture. Over the centuries, the creative genius of the Orissan sculptors found expression in numerous beautiful images, which can vie with the best works made anywhere in India.

The sculptural images of Orissa display one of the most distinctive regional styles of India. The study of this style is particularly rewarding as there is continuous sculptural activity in the region, spanning over a period of thousand years for each of the three major religions, i.e. Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. The style is characterized by the overall clarity and consistency of its evolving iconographic program.

In this monograph the important sculptures are analyzed with reference to their aesthetic value, style and iconography. The iconographic features of Brahmanical, Buddhist and Jaina images have been described with photographic documentation to highlight Orissa's cultural splendor.

This important handbook on sculpture masterpieces from Orissa will be indispensable for scholars, students of comparative religion, and anyone who wants to know Orissa and understand its composite identity.

About the Author
Karuna Sagar Behera (1939-2008), earned M.A. in History in 1960 from Utkal University with first position. He obtained Post-Graduate Diploma in Archaeology from the School of Archaeology, Archaeological Survey of India, and New Delhi. He was awarded the D.Litt. by Utkal University for his study on Konarak. An eminent archaeologist and historian, he held various positions such as Professor and Head of the Post-Graduate Department of History, Utkal University; Dean, Faculty of Arts, Chairman, Post-Graduate Council, Utkal University; Vice Chancellor, Fakir Mohan University, Balasore, etc. His major publications include Folk Art and Craft (ed.), 1978; Cuttack: 1000 Years (ed.), 2 vols. 1991; Praci Mahatmya (in Sanskrit) (ed.), 1992; Temples of Orissa, 1993; Konarak: The Heritage of Mankind, 1996; Bhakti Vaibhava Naiakam (in Sanskrit) (ed.), 1998; Maritime Heritage of India (ed.), 1999; Charles Grime’s Report on the Temple of Jagannatha (ed.), 2002; G. Webb's Report on the Temple of Jagannatha (ed.), 2003 and The Lingaraja Temple of Bhubaneswar, 2008.

Thomas Eugene Donaldson did his undergraduate and graduate study at Wayne State University. He took his Ph.D. under Sherman Lee at Case Western Reserve University in 1973. He taught Art History at Cleveland State University. His major publications include Hindu Temple Art of Orissa, 3 vols., 1985-87; Kamadeoa's Pleasure Garden: Orissa, 1987; Iconography of the Buddhist Sculpture of Orissa, 2 vols., 2001; Tantra and Sukta Art of Orissa, 3 vols., 2002 and Konark, 2003.

The modem state of Orissa, known variously as Kahnga, Odra, Odivtsa, Utkala and Tosali throughout its ancient history, is situated on the northeast coast of India and is somewhat off the beaten track of modern tourism. Historically, often serving as a buffer zone between warring factions, it has not consistently been associated with anyone of the four directional divisions of India, t.e., North, East, South or West. Known as "a land of temples," its architecture, representing a largely independent movement with the constituent units of the temple bearing names different from the standard terminology used elsewhere in India, came to acquire a distinct nomenclature, with "Kahnga" being listed as one of four distinct classes on temples. One of the most characteristic features of the Orissan temple is the overall clarity of its decorative program, each individual motif being clearly defined as a self-containing element in the total decorative program, each sculptural image being well-contained within its paga boundaries. Although recent scholarly research has produced numerous studies on the rich cultural heritage of Orissa, the bulk of the study, as pointed out by Chanda, Paragraph and others, has focused on the architecture while the wealth of sculpture which they possess has been almost unanimously neglected. Part of this neglect is due to the fact that the scholars, weaned on the classical appeal of the Gupta style, have not looked at the works with an appreciative eye. Chanda, for example, was of the opinion that the "sculptures that adorn the well-known temples of Bhubaneswar, Puri and Konarak, are, with few exceptions, of little independent artistic value." In other cases the authors have dwelled almost exclusively on erotic imagery, obviously because of its appeal to the general public worldwide, and completely ignore the aesthetic aspects. Or the surviving images have been approached from a purely archaeological standpoint with little regard for stylistic analysis.

The surviving sculptural images, however, display one of the most distinctive regional styles throughout India. The study of this style is particularly rewarding in that there is continuous sculptural activity in the region spanning over a thousand years for each of the three major religions, i.e., Jainism, Buddhism and Hinduism. As in the case of architecture, the style is characterized by the overall clarity and consistency of its evolving iconographic program, features fully recognized by J.N. Banerjea who utilized numerous Orissan images in his book on the Development of Hindu Iconography. Due to the widespread distribution of major artistic centers, and the predilection for utilizing local stone for images, the quality of preservation varies from site to site as well as period to period. Unfortunately some of the most exquisite carving is badly eroded due to the poor quality of stone available, as in western Orissa where refined surface details were usually carved on a thin layer of stucco added to the surface. In coastal Orissa the quality of sandstone varies with the best preserved images dating to the early periods. the sculpture on later temples being badly eroded. In northeast Orissa, with a harder chlorite type of stone (mugging) being available from the Nilgiri hills and from quarries near Khiching, surface details are more exquisite, refined and, obviously, better preserved. Although this harder stone was occasionally employed for major images in coastal Orissa, it was not until the 13th century that it was employed on a more widespread scale. Another drawback to preservation is the Orissan predilection for dark, plain interiors, particularly with Saiva temples where the sanctum is often subterranean. Very few sculptures were thus protected from the elements as the images almost exclusively decorated the exterior walls. The few images which were placed within shrines, usually images of the Devi or sanctum images of Visnu, are thus obscured by the almost total darkness of their surroundings so that their beauty, even when not covered by modem garments or unguents, escapes even the most appreciative eye.

It is our intent, in this volume, to present a selection of images which in particular exhibit the unique style and iconographic peculiarities, from widespread areas and historic periods, of the rich cultural heritage of Orissa.

Book's Contents and Sample Pages

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