06 August, 2012

The Great Platform at Vijayanagara: Architecture and Sculpture

The Great Platform at Vijayanagara: Architecture and Sculpture

By- Anna L. Dallapiccola

The Great Platform at Vijayanagara (Hampi) in Karnataka, popularly known as the Mahanavami Dibba, dominates the walled enclosures of the Royal Centre at the core of the ruins of the celebrated Hindu capital. The monument was constructed in successive phases during the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries. It rises in pyramidal fashion in three superimposed granite tiers, and is fronted by green chloritic panels on its western face. Nothing remains of the columned hall that crowned the summit of the Great Platform, presumably fashioned of wood. The sides, however, preserve an extensive series of relief carvings. These illustrate a broad range of topics: royal figures receiving guests, enjoying entertainments and hunting expeditions; celebrations of the Vasantotsava spring festival with courtly women squirting each other with water; parades of royal horses, elephants and even camels, accompanied by riders and attendants; courtly female dancers and musicians as well as forest female huntresses; Central Asian guards, animal grooms and dancers and musicians.

While the unique features of the Great Platform have to some extent been recognized by scholars, this volume presents the first comprehensive description of its architectural features and sculptural imagery. Anna L. Dallapicolla’s account of the monument, which is in the nature of a complete catalogue, is divided systematically into sections that accord with the successive phases of construction. In addition to analyzing the diverse themes of the carvings, Dallapiccola highlights the stylistic characteristics of the different phases of the sculptures, drawing particular attention to the profuse depictions of foreigners, notably the Central Asian Turks who at one time must have formed part of the inner coteries of the Vijayanagara court. These descriptions are illustrated by almost 100 photographs. George Michell contributes a chapter on the architectural features of the monument. This is accompanied by annotated measure drawings showing elevations and details.

Anna L. Dallapiccola is former Professor of Indian Art History at the University of Heidelberg; she is now an Honorary Professor at Edinburgh University.

ISBN  978-81-7304-858-6    2010   168p.   Rs.995/ Pounds 55

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