TEMPLE ARCHITECTURE

TEMPLE ARCHITECTURE

TEMPLE ARCHITECTURE

Contents

·         Introduction

·         Temple Architecture – Chisels and carving

·         Temple Architecture – Idols

·         References

Introduction

Temples and stupas from Sanchi in Bihar to Tanjore in Tamilnadu vouch for the heights ancient India had scaled in architecture. Several references to architecture are found in Sanskrit literature – Vastu-shastra texts like Maya-mata, Manasara, Samarangana-sutradhara, Puranas like Matsya-purana, Agni-purana and secular literature like Brihat-samhita and Arthashastra.

In this segment, a few examples are given on:

·         Selecting of stone for the construction of temples and monuments

·         Materials and specification of idols and

·         The tools used in architecture

Temple Architecture – Selection of stone

Sila taddese Iokajfiane saddha prathita,

hiranyarekhika, samavarna, tamra, dhatuputita,

vajralabdha saikataliketi I

In this land, six types of stones are in common knowledge

Hiranya -rekhika = Of golden lines

Sarna-varna = Of uniform color

Tamra = Copper colored

Dhatu-putita = Mineral layered

Vajra-Iabdha = Diamond like

Saikatalika = Sand stone.

Yada hiranyarekha kutila sosvalaksanah I

Sa pratimarthahina viruparn pradadati I

Taddarsanena vikalpabhavah prabhavati I

Darsanadeta arthahina ucyante, vadanti,

bhavantiti I

Etadartharn pratimavailaksanyarn bhavati I

When the golden lines are crooked, it (the stone) is ugly. It is unfit for idols. It gives disfigurement. Its sight causes distorted imagination. By visual inspection, these (stones) are purposeless. Therefore, the idol acquires disfigurement.

Samavarna yada purnasailarnekavarnarn krsnarn

krsnapingalarn haridrarn va mukhyapratimartharn

dhyeyarn sa samavarna I

When a Samavarna stone is entirely of a single color, be it black, dark brown or turmeric yellow, that stone should be used for the principal idol.

Kathinatamagadha-pingalasila na dhyeya I

Yada sailarn bhittyakrteraprthak

pratimasalartharn tad dhyeyam I Sailarn

prthaktvena hinarn bhavati I

Yatra kevalarn lllavigraha nivasanti bhittyange, iti I

Very hard stone of copper-red color should not be considered. When the stone is not severed from the rock, it can be used for sculpture halls. When the stone is separated, it becomes deficient. When only mythological scenes exist in the walls, these stones can be used.

sus dhatuputita dhumravarna vranopeta

rupartham ghoreti I

 

Dhatuputita stone, smoke colored or with pores is awful for idol making.

 

Sailantare starabhyantare kornalarasabaddha

rekhah santi yah pitaprabhah sadadharna

bhavanti sresthaih silpakaraih I

According to good sculptors, stones which are bright yellow and have in them or between their layers soft mineral lines, become inferior.

Saikatalikasila ynpayonimithunastambha

vrsastambhakundartharn visista, sa rupartharn

grahya, tajjfianalabdhasthapakah

sarnupatisthanti janaloke sarnpanna mahlyante I

Sandstone is especially good for sacrificial posts, altars, double-pillars and furnaces. It is also to be taken for making images. The sculptors who possess this knowledge are greatly honored as accomplished.

Source

Vastusutra -upanisad, Saila -bhedanam,

Sutrarn 9 (Post-vedic period)

Etymology

Rasabaddha-rekhika = Lines bound by minerals = Mineral lines.

Temple Architecture – Idols

SauvarnI rajati vapi tarnrr ratnamayI tatha I

SailI darumayi capi lohasadhamayi tatha II

Ritika dhatuyukta va tamrakarnsyarnayt tatha I

Subhadarumayi vapi devatarca prasasyate II

The worship of idols made of gold, silver, copper, gems, stone, wood, metal, or alloys, alloys with iron, copper, brass, and bronze is praised.

Pratimarnukharnanena navabhagan prakalpayet I

Caturangula bhavedgriva bhagena hrdayarn punah II

Nabhistasmadadhah karya bhagenaikena sobhana I

Nimnatve vistaratve ca angularn parikirtitarn II

Make idols in nine parts starting with the face. The neck should be 4 fingers width; then the chest a part. Below that the beautiful navel famous for its depth and expansiveness of a finger width should be made with one part.

abhiradhastathamedham bhagenaikena kalpayet I

Dvibhagenayatavuru januni caturangule II

Janghe dvibhage vikhyati padau ca caturangulaih

Caturdasangulastadvanmaulirasya prakirtitah II

Build the genitals below the navel in one part. The thigh and the knee come in two parts in four fingers width. The legs are known in two parts, the feet in 4 fingers width. Similarly, the crown of 14 fingers is well known.

Source

Matsya -puranam, Pratima -nirmana -varnanam,

Slokah 26-29 (5’h century BeE)

Temple Architecture – Chisels and carving

Khanitrapancakarn srestharn II

Bhedastu lafiji, Iangali, grdhradantI,

suclmukha, vajra iti, sarve ayasa dvividha

bhavanti ksinah prasastasca, musaladharubhe

musaladandena khanitrarh ghatayanti

prayojayanti silabhedane tat I Sarvastrani

tiksnani, gavarnbuputitani I Tatah

ingidalepitani carrnasanitani ca I

Five types of chisels are good. The different varieties are lanji (biting), langali (plough like), grdhradanti (like vulture teeth), sucimukha (needle tipped) and vajra (diamond like). All are made up of steel and each one of two types is narrow and broad. Men beat the chisel on the long mallet, with the short mallet people use for breaking stone. All instruments are sharpened, dipped in cow’s urine and then smeared with ingida (asafetida) oil and whetted in leather.

Silpakarah pralepayanti dravakarasam II

Sankhadravakustharasa -saindhavakharpara-

ukatsavalkalacurnena sahitarh siladravanartha-

mevam rasacatustayarn anena mantrena

dasaharnardanante vaitane khanitrarh

prayojayanti khananarnacaranti bhadrena

sthapakah I

Sculptors apply a softening mixture. Shell-solvent, Kustharasa, sea salt and the powder of the bark of the ukatsa tree are thus the four fluids for the softening of stones. With this plan, after immersing the chisel for 10 days, sculptors use the chisel in sacrificial rites and also dig with ease.

 

Source

Vastusutra-upanisad, Sutram 6, 8, Saila-bhedanam (Post-vedic period).

Notes

Kusta-rasa = Costus specious or arabicus.

In the forests of the Mahendra mountain, a tree is found whose bark is called stone-breaking i.e. Prasrara-bhedi.

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