Eloquent Spaces adopts the twin analytic of meaning and community to write a fresh history of building in early India. It presents a new perspective on the principles and practices of early Indian architecture.
Defining it broadly over a range of space uses, the book argues for architecture as a form of cultural production as well as public consumption. Ten chapters by leading archaeologists, architects, historians and philosophers, examining different architectural sites and landscapes, including Sanchi, Moodabidri, Srinagar, Chidambaram, Patan, Konark, Basgo and Puri, demonstrate the need to look beyond the built form to its spirit, beyond aesthetics to cognition, and thereby to integrating architecture with its myriad living contexts. The volume captures some of the semantic diversity inherent in premodern Indian traditions of civic building, both sacred and secular, which were, however, unified in their insistence on enacting meaning and a transcendent validity over and above utility and beauty of form. The book is a quest for a culturally rooted architecture as an alternative to the growing crisis of disembededness that informs modern praxis.
This volume will be of interest to scholars and practitioners of architecture, ancient Indian history, philosophy, art history and cultural studies.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
List of Contributors
1. Introduction: Towards a Semantics of Architecture
2. Form, Space and Consciousness: Architectural Principles in the Vastushastras
Bettina Sharada Bäumer
3. Breathing Life into Monuments of Death: The Stupa and the 'Buddha Body' in Sanchi’s Socio-Ecological Landscape
4. Spatial and Architectural Constructs of Tantric Buddhist Mandalas: A Cognitive Approach
5. The Old Temple of Basgo, Ladakh: A hypothesis on the superimposition of the 'celestial assembly' on sculpture and Sangha
6. Temple and Territory in the Puri Jagannatha Imaginaire
Manu V. Devadevan
7. Stepwells of Western India: Ranki Vav at Patan
8. Outer Places, Inner Spaces: Constructing the Gaze in Chola Chidambaram
9. Interpreting Public Space in the Jaina Basadis of Moodabidri
10. On the Water’s Edge: Tracing Urban Form in Old Srinagar
M.N. Ashish Ganju
Shonaleeka Kaul is Associate Professor at the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University. Her previous works include The Making of Early Kashmir: Landscape and Identity in the Rajatarangini (2018), Cultural History of Early South Asia: A Reader (2014) and Imagining the Urban: Sanskrit and the City in Early India (2010).