Excerpts from ‘Ornamentation in Traditional Indian Architecture’

Art history/ Historiography

Excerpts from ‘Ornamentation in Traditional Indian Architecture’

Dhar, Parul Pandya

The talk focused upon the concepts and visual manifestations of ornament in the architectural traditions of ancient and early medieval India. In the process it highlighted the manner in which artists and artisans created myriad visual representations of some formal concepts in the history of traditional Indian architectural ornament.

‘Ornament’ in the Indian tradition assumes meanings that go far beyond the scope of mere ‘decoration’. Sanskrit terms that convey the notion of ornament also point towards the inherent rationale of ornament in the Indian tradition as being integral to the significance and form of the concerned object. The most prevalent of all these terms is alamkara (alam+) that means ‘rendering adequate’ or ‘making effective’. Parallel terms in Sanskrit that also convey the idea of ornament are bhushana, abharana, and aharya. Bhushana (verb: bhus) refers to ornament as the means by which the efficacy of a subject is increased or empowered. Abharana (a+bhr)<...

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