HISTART 577-001

Bodies and Buildings: Studies in the Temple Architecture and Sculpture of India

TTh 9:00-10:30am
3 Credit Seminar


Indian temples are among the great architectural traditions of the world. Erected by Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains since the early centuries CE, they display an extraordinary array of sophisticated forms, layouts, and functions. This seminar initially traces the formal, social, and symbolic origins of the important traditions of temple architecture. It then maps some regional expressions. In doing so, it emphasizes some of the remarkable ways in which humans and temples have shaped and reflected one another. Encounters between temples and human communities have ranged from a sponsor's limb providing the unit of measure for a shrine, to the design of the temple as the dwelling and body of a gendered, juridical, and permeable being. Thereafter, the seminar graphs pivotal moments in lives of individual temples – their conception, construction, the infusion of prana (vital energy) into them, their mutilation, restoration, total destruction, and eventually re-creation – alongside rituals and festivals performed around them. Finally, the seminar will survey how communities of patrons and masons living and working in Southeast Asia and East Asia have adopted, and adapted, traditions of Indian temple architecture and sculpture.

Estimated cost of materials: $50-100.