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  Life   More Features  29 Nov 2019  Tales of temples past

Tales of temples past

Published : Nov 29, 2019, 1:18 am IST
Updated : Nov 29, 2019, 1:18 am IST

This exhibition represents the craftsmanship legacy of Odisha’s ethereal temples.

Jagannatha Temple, Puri, Odisha
 Jagannatha Temple, Puri, Odisha

Odisha is a land that brings pilgrims from every nook and cranny of India — the world, in fact — together, as it is home to the Lingaraj and Puri temples. But not many consider the intricacy and attention to detail of the wall carvings, artifacts and artwork (Pattachitras and palm manuscripts) that these temples boast.

Presently, there is an exhibition being held at the India International Centre titled ‘Interpreting Temples: Lingaraj and Puri Temples’. The exhibition displays an ensemble of objects with a legacy spanning hundreds of years — the artifacts range from soapstone models of temples and historical buildings to woodcarvings of temples, Pattachitra paintings and palm manuscripts.

We spoke to Siddhartha Das, the curator and designer of the show, who told us about the link that exists between the region’s architecture, Odissi dance and literature. He continued, “The dance form owes a lot to the classical tradition and being classical art forms, they (the architecture and the literature) would have grown together.”

On the purpose of the exhibition, Das commented, “We wanted to show it (the artwork) in its traditional form. We also wanted to look at the entire gamut of life surrounding the temple by looking at the sacred architecture, sculptures, and iconographies that come as a part of the architecture. Then, we look at the deities worshipped, and the craft forms linked to the temple.”

Standing out among the artifacts on display were the Pattachitras with their palm-leaf engraving technique. Here, a large leaf was split into rectangular slits and a metal stylus was used to engrave on it. The ink was created using the soot of oil lamps.

“If you see the forms, they are very similar and the manuscript tradition of palm leaves is very historical. We wanted to go back to how it was 200 years ago. All the colours are natural and made from pigments,” he expressed.

Das summed up by saying, “There are multiple stories from each of those things (works on display). Faith and history are two different strands because faith is one way of looking at something and history is another. It would be interesting to look at both strands together.”

— The exhibition is ongoing till December 6 at IIC

Tags: puri temple