Thursday, October 9, 2008

Hoysala Erotica

Never in my imagination did I think that Hoysala artisans attained such pinnacle of sculpting virtually by dexterity and perfection which can be compared with a painter.   One villager compared their feat to hands of god. They were inspired by the heavenly blessings endowed along with the soap stone found in abundance in and around Hassan district. The erotica hidden in the monuments of Halebid, Somnathpur, Kikkeri,  reveal the passion of the artisans of the times.  One needs to be peeping tom literally to locate these passion play on the facade of the hoysala temples.  

The claim of Khajuraho temples being constructed between 950 to 1050 AD and Hoysaleswara temple built during 1121 AD for almost 100 years and still incomplete seems a little jigsaw puzzle, which is yet to be solved by any historian. If Muhammad Ghazni who invaded India seventeen times, primarily to target Indian wealth and convert local populace between 1001-1027 AD, he would have plundered Khajuraho temples. Between 1009 A.D and 1026 A.D he invaded Kangra, Thaneshwar, Kanauj, Mathura, Gwalior, Kashmir and Punjab. Between 1175 to 1206 AD, another tyrant Mohammad Ghori plundered India almost 7 times, in the region of Benares, Gwalior, Ajmer and Mathura. Therefore the claim of Khajuraho being built in 1050 AD and remaining intact seems highly improbable. The erotica at Khajuraho temples were definitely of 1300 AD and beyond.

Chalukyan Influence on Hoysala architecture :

Aihole can be safely be considered as school of erotic architecture in India since 450 AD.  The Chalukyan emperors were the first official sponsorers of erotic architecture.  The artisans of the time were given plenty of freedom to boldly exhibit romance, eroticism on the facades of the temples starting from Huchiappa complex, Galaganatha complex, Melguti temple, etc. Unlike Hoysala artisans they did were given plenty of liberty to run their imagination wild. Lajja Gauri sculpture located in the museum at Badami is a proof of this liberty.  Check out this link

There was scuttle amount eroticism when the artisans of the time were sculpting the god and goddess idols.  But the scope of  portraying hindu gods was not considered blasphemy but overdoing would have invited criticism.  The vent to sexual freedom basically must have arisen due to the fact that long hours of sculpting without connecting with the subject matter would have lead to monotony, it did not bring in job satisfaction in modern day parlance i presume.  Further some of the migrated artisans were kept away from family pleasures in lieu of their service away from home town, thus was born eroticism, which was considered natural and subscribed to the modern day Freudian  theory of oral and visual gratification.  check out this link :

Hoysala artisans were obviously under instruction to be discreet in their exhibits of eroticism in their sculpture. They did not exceed their brief to a large extent in toning down the size of the sculptures to visual treat rather than adopting titillation unlike their contemporary artisans in Khajuraho.  Hoysala artisans had the benefit of carving out of soapstone which was comparitively easier to miniaturise erotic sculpture, whereas Chalukyan artisans did not have that luxury due hard granite for their sculpting.  Naturally Hoysala artisans such as Mallithimma achieved the sculpting skill close to a photographers exposition.  They were master craftsmen in bring out the essence of  visual sexual pleasure.

Finally many of the Chalukyan erotic sculptures seems to have been pillaged to be sold in foreign destinations or languishing in private collections.  Hoysala erotic sculptures have not been plundered due to the fact that soapstones are brittle and it would crumble.  However the slotted panels have been definitely pirated to museums abroad.

The surmise being that Halebid seems to be trail blazer in erotica which was exposed in a limited fashion. The culmination of erotica took its shades in the Khajuraho temples by the descendents of the artisans who may have migrated to North India for greener pastures.

I hope one day the truth will emerge that Halebid was the finest example of erotic finesse prevailing in the ancient times. If some historians can work on this angle we shall pride ourselves being innovators rather than followers of the trend.  I am sure all the sixty odd postures of  Kamasutra would have been completed in panels of  temple architecture in India.

Disclaimer :  This is an original presentation of the author, without much data from any source on evolution of erotic sculpting except a passing reference in Wiki regarding hoysala architecture was subtle expose or eroticism.  The premise is based on the fact India is credited to have discovered kamasutra.

Additional Research Material :

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