The Indian Temple: Production, Place and Patronage

Project start date: 2006-04 Project end date: 2009-09
Temples dominated the landscape of India between the seventh and thirteenth centuries. Protected by kings and widely supported by endowments and other gifts, temples enjoyed ascendancy as centres of religious life, socio-economic power and artistic production. Although much research has been carried out on temple architecture since the late nineteenth century, important questions remain about how temples were patronised and constructed and the place they occupied in a medieval Indian polity. Three general themes, each with a corresponding question, have provided a framework for the research: Production (Adam Hardy)- How were temples designed and built? Place (Michael Willis - What was the social and political role of medieval Indian temples? Patronage (Daud Ali)- What was the king’s role as a patron of architecture and Sanskrit letters? In addressing these broad themes, one temple site, paradigmatic of medieval Indian in general, has been taken as the starting point for the project. This is the site of Bhojpur, near Bhopal in central India, where a gigantic temple was left unfinished in the mid-eleventh century. It is associated with King Bhoja, one of India's most notable monarchs. Around the temple are quarries with rock drawings and unfinished architectural parts, a unique survival providing insights into medieval processes of design and construction. Adam Hardy the explored these processes, fully documenting the Bhojpur site and making detailed measurements of numerous temples. The builder of the unfinished temple was King Bhoja, a renowned polymath who composed important works on art, philosophy, yoga and poetics. Daud Ali has examined Bhoja's literary output, and his post-medieval reputation as an ideal king. Temples of this period received land and other revenue as endowments. Michael Willis has analysed the origins of this system and has studied the geographical distribution of temples and their endowments, shedding light on the place of the temple in the society and economy of the medieval state.
Era(s): 
Methods usedCategory
2d scanning and photographyData capture
Manual input and transcriptionData capture
Funding sources: 
Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
Software tools used: 
Source material used:  
One temple site, paradigmatic of medieval Indian in general, has been taken as the starting point for the project. This is the site of Bhojpur, near Bhopal in central India, where a gigantic temple was left unfinished in the mid-eleventh century. Around the temple are quarries and unfinished architectural parts, along with architectural drawings engraved on the rocks, a unique survival providing insights into the processes of design and construction. The temple is associated with King Bhoja of the Paramara dynasty, a renowned polymath. Bhoja is the subject of many stories and legends in nearly every Indian language, and is known as one of the greatest kings of medieval India.
Digital resource created:  
In addition to the project website, one of the outcomes is a web-based catalogue of Indian temple sculpture in the British Museum. This has been prepared by Michael Willis with assistance from Anne Casile. Sculptures relevant to the project's themes were selected for cataloguing and made available through the British Museum's online collections database. See: http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/search_the_collection_database.aspx
Access to digital resource:  
Open Access
Publications:  
See http://www.prasada.org.uk/indian_temple/publications.html

Institutions affiliated with this project: 

UK HE institutions involved:
Cardiff University
School of Oriental and African Studies
Other institutions involved:
British Museum

Project staff and expertise: 

Principal staff member:Adam Hardy, Daud Ali, Michael Willis
Other staff:PhD student(s), Postdoctoral researcher(s) / Research assistant(s)
External expertise:


Metadata on this arts-humanities.net record
Author(s) of recordAdam Hardy
TitleThe Indian Temple: Production, Place and Patronage
Record created2010-07-20
Record updated2010-07-20 14:28
URL of recordhttp://www.arts-humanities.net/node/3646
Citation of recordAdam Hardy: The Indian Temple: Production, Place and Patronage. <http://www.arts-humanities.net/node/3646> created: 2010-07-20, last updated 2010-07-20 14:28
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