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Whispering of Inscriptions, v. 2 – Short titles, contributors and abstracts

Murugaiyan, Appasamy & Parlier-Renault, Édith (2021) (Eds) Whispering of Inscriptions: South Indian Epigraphy and Art History: Papers from an International Symposium in memory of Professor Noboru Karashima (Paris, 12–13 October 2017), v.2 – Short titles, contributors and abstracts

X – Sanskrit inscriptions of the Eastern Cālukya, P. Estienne

This paper will focus on the characteristics of the epigraphic texts belonging to the corpus of the eastern Cālukya. It will first analyse the historical data provided by the inscriptions on the dynasty of eastern Cālukya, together with the technical information on the agents and the types of donations. The textual and literary specifications of these inscriptions are also analysed. It will highlight the epigraphs' poetical qualities and the link they have with kāvya. Finally, it will show that the use of poetical processes in these texts is part of the legitimisation of the king.

Perrine ESTIENNE received her Ph.D. in Indology in 2008 (Université de Provence) on the Sanskrit inscriptions of the so-called ‘Eastern Chalukyas.’ She has published articles, mostly on Sanskrit epigraphy. Since 2008, she has been giving lectures on Sanskrit language and literature for beginners and advanced students in the same university.

XI – Exploring inter-textuality between Mediæval Tamil inscriptions and bhakti literature, V. Renganathan

The two important sources of knowledge on South Indian culture and civilisation are the stone inscriptions and the literary texts from the mediæval period. In most of the instances, one might wonder which precedes the other and what originally influenced mostly the religious customs and habits that prevail up to now. Many Tamil religious poems refer to South Indian temples and subsequently such temples came to be known popularly in Tamil as pēr peṟṟa talaṅkaḷ or pāṭal peṟṟa talaṅkaḷ ‘abode which acquired name / songs.’ Similarly, many inscriptions refer to the poems of the mediæval period, both Sanskrit and Tamil, and give indications on the way such poems should be incorporated into the daily rituals of the temples. One common term that we routinely see in many temple inscriptions is tiruppatiyam pāṭutal ‘singing of the Tēvāram songs’ (cf. SII 8-44 p. 22). Thus, as a result of this inter-related textual phenomenon, the Sanskrit and Tamil priesthoods emerged as two heterogeneous communities engaging concurrently within the South Indian ritual system. However, the degree of adaptation of these two parallel traditions in the modern period vary considerably, quite in contrast to what is stated in inscriptions. This paper is mainly focused on two points: the inter-textual phenomenon that exists between the literary genres and stone inscriptions, and the continued adaptations of the commands and ordinances made by the kings through stone inscriptions.

Vasu RENGANATHAN was awarded an M.A. in Linguistics by the University of Washington, Seattle in 1994, a Ph.D. in South Asian Linguistics by the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia in 2010. He studied Sanskrit, Hindi and French at the University of Pennsylvania between 1994 and 2010. He authors four books and about twenty articles related to Tamil language, linguistics, history and Hindu Religion. He has been serving as Lecturer in Tamil language and literature at the Department of South Asia Studies, University of Pennsylvania from 1996 to the present. Previously he has taught Tamil language and literature at the University of Washington, Seattle, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and University of Wisconsin, Madison. He has research interests in Tamil Sangam and mediæval literature including Tamil inscriptions and Tamil language pædagogy.

XII – Architectural bilingualism in the Cōḻa kingdom, C. Schmid

Both the temple of Gangaikondacholapuram and the Meykkīrtti (Tamil royal epigraphical praises) of Rājendra I are inspired by the architectural, iconographic and epigraphic achievements of Rājarāja I. The royal epigraphical eulogy not only in Tamil but also in Sanskrit underwent a remarkable development during the reign of Rājendra I in the Tamil country. It is all the more surprising that it has not been engraved on the royal foundation of this king, the temple of Gangaikondacholapuram. But this major monument located in the Tamil country some sixty miles north-west of Tanjore represents an enigma in several respects. If it is on the choice of a site that appears to us today very isolated that it has often been questioned, it is through the enigmatic character of its epigraphy that we will approach this royal foundation. When Rājendra I established his capital in Gangaikondacholapuram, the tradition of the Meykkīrtti was well established by his predecessor and father, Rājarāja I, whose royal foundation of Tanjore, the temple of Bṛhadeśvara, is engraved with many copies of the Meykkīrtti. It is also found that the Meykkīrtti of Rājendra I itself is so commonly engraved on the local foundations of the Tamil country that it may be the most common epigraphic text encountered in this area. Yet the royal foundation of Rājendra I contains no trace of the Meykkīrtti of this king.

In this paper we will expose the elements touching this epigraphic conundrum and propose to solve it by putting back the temple and its epigraphy in the larger ensembles that are the epigraphy of South India, in Sanskrit and in Tamil.

Charlotte SCHMID is Director of Studies of the École française d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO). After working in northern India on the earliest known figurative representations of a major divinity of personal devotion or bhakti, Kṛṣṇa, she had the good fortune to spend several years in the Tamil-speaking South. Poring over inscriptions and sculptures produced during the Pallava and the Cōḻa period (6th–13th centuries) and reading texts with the help of the pandits at the centre of the EFEO in Pondicherry enabled her to publish several books (Le don de voir, Sur le chemin de Kṛṣṇa: la flûte et ses voiesLa Bhakti d’une reine and The Archaeology of Bhakti I, Mathura and Madurai, Back and ForthThe Archaeology of Bhakti II, Royal Bhakti, local Bhakti as editor with E. Francis).

XIII – Recent archæological discoveries and their impact on South Indian archæology, K. Rajan

The emergence of the Early Historic period in South India, after the Iron Age, is an important issue that needs to be reassessed on the basis of recent evidences that have arisen in the field of archæology, epigraphy, numismatics, literature and historical linguistics. It has become increasingly complex to draw a chronological demarcation line between the Iron Age and the Early Historic period. The introduction of iron, the appearance of megalithic monuments and the availability of black-and-red ware are generally the three elements taken into account to determine the beginning of the Iron Age. However, the recent evidences suggest that each of these cultural components has its own independent origin and evolution: they emerged and evolved in South India in different times and converged as a homogenous cultural synthesis only in the course of time. In the same way, the introduction of Brāhmī is usually seen as the main cultural marker for the beginning of Early History, a view that needs also to be reassessed. The occurrences of iron, black-and-red ware, megalithic monuments, graffiti and Brāhmī script are not uniformly datable throughout the South Indian cultural landscape and the beginning or termination of the cultural phases may be different depending on the various contexts and data examined. The radiometric dates obtained from Thelunganur and Mangadu for iron pushed the beginning of the Iron Age to the 15th century BCE. Likewise, the Porunthal and Kodumanal radiometric dates pushed the beginning of the Brāhmī writing system to the 6th century BCE, thereby pushing back also the commencement of Early History in South India to the 6th century BCE. The present article attempts to re-examine the question of the beginning of Early History in South India in relation to primary sources based on recent investigations.

K. RAJAN was awarded a B.A. in history in 1977, an M.A. in Ancient History and Archaeology in 1980 by the Madras University, a Post Graduate Diploma in Archaeology in 1982 by the School of Archaeology, Archaeological Survey of India, and a Ph.D. in Archaeology by the Mysore University in 1988. He served as a Technical Officer at the National Institute of Oceanography, Goa, as a Professor at the Tamil University and is currently serving as a Professor at the Pondicherry University. He has 25 years of experience directing archæological research in India. He has to his credit 18 books and 115 articles and has completed 24 major research projects funded by the University Grants Commission, Indian National Science Academy, Indian Council of Historical Research, Archaeological Survey of India, Central Institute of Classical Tamil and Ford Foundation. He directed the excavations at Mayiladumparai, Thandikudi, Porunthal and Kodumanal. He is the recipient of the Commonwealth Fellowship as well as of the Charles Wallace Fellowship respectively tenable at Cambridge University and Institute of Archaeology, and University College, London. He received the Certificate of Achievement for his work at Kodumanal conferred on by the Shanghai Archaeology Forum at Shanghai, China in 2013. He also received the Best Teacher Award of the Pondicherry University in the years 2012 and 2013.

XIV – Epigraphy to the rescue of art history? A. Davrinche

In the north of Tamil Nadu stands the fortress of Senji (Villupuram district), essentially known for its impressive military architecture and its romantic ruins. Expanded during the 15th–17th centuries under the reign of the Nāyakas, the history of the dynastic capital of Toṇḍaimaṇḍalam remains mostly obscure and shows a critical lack of sources, both archæological and textual. Hence, the analysis of the epigraphy of the site proves to be essential; however, the inscriptions of Senji are in fact raising more questions than solving issues, especially regarding the religious monuments and places of worship. Very few in number, often incomplete or illegible, their interpretation has consequences for temple dating and the appreciation of the patrons' ambition. The objective of the present work is to examine the difficulties associated with the use of epigraphy as a method for relative dating and to understand the historical value that can be attributed to the elements —inscriptions and decorative designs— found on the surface of temples throughout the religious landscape of Senji.

Anne DAVRINCHE successfully obtained a B.A. in Art History specialised in Indian art and archæology in 2008 and a M.A. in museology and research on collections in 2010 at the École du Louvre, Paris. During her Ph.D. in Art History and Indian studies, (Eastern Language, Civilisations and Societies) at the University of Paris 3 – Sorbonne Nouvelle completed in 2017, she specialised in the study of the style and iconography of South Indian Hindu architecture, working on all the different aspects of a site in its historical, artistic and social environment. She was awarded a B.A. in Sanskrit and Indian studies at the University of Paris 3 – Sorbonne Nouvelle in 2011, and follows, since 2009, Tamil epigraphy teaching of Prof. A. MURUGAIYAN at University of Paris IV, and Indian art history and epigraphy under Prof. C. SCHMIDT at École française d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO). She has been a research fellow with a post-doctoral contract at the EFEO, studying the expression of devotion and iconographic and stylistic transmissions in architecture of Tamil Nadu, and is also an independent consultant in Indian art and architecture for public and private institutions. She is currently working at the Library of the Institute for Indian Studies at the Collège de France.

XV – Vijayanagara iconography, M. Le Sauce-Carnis

This paper constitutes a preliminary study for a project dealing with the iconography and history of a selection of Vijayanagara temples in Rāyālasīma. Having studied depictions of Rāma in Vijayanagara temples during my Ph.D., I would now like to extend my methodology to the entire iconography of these temples. This will lead to a better understanding of the religious and architectural history of the region, which has not been deeply examined until now. The article introduces some interesting recurring iconographic themes encountered in these temples. I first give an account of several reliefs depicting the Rāmāyaṇa to show my methodology, and then examine different reliefs: some represent Kṛṣṇa, others show various avatāras or depict vyūhas. They provide an idea of the iconographic richness of the monuments and of the questions they raise.

Marion LE SAUCE-CARNIS received her Ph.D. in June 2016 from the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3. She submitted her dissertation on: Du héros épique à l'icône divine. L'image de Rāma dans les décors sculptés de l'empire de Vijayanagar. She studied Sanskrit at the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3 from 2006 to 2012. She is currently pursuing her research on the temples of Vijayanagara in Andhra Pradesh and has been studying Telugu at INaLCO since 2017. She has been a lecturer at the École du Louvre since 2011 and at the Université Catholique de l'Ouest – Angers since 2018.

XVI – Brahmā and Śiva in Pallava and Cōḻa iconography, V. Olivier

The privileged status granted to Brahmā on several Śaiva temples of the end of the Pallava period, then of the Cōḻa period, in which Brahmā often occupies the central niche of the north façade, is premised in the complex relationship of complementarity and rivalry that he establishes with Śiva since the first developments of the royal Pallava ideology, and more specifically, as it is staged in the iconography of the Kailāsanātha temple in Kāñcipuram. On the one hand, the multiple interactions between the two divinities are notably structured around the ambiguous confrontation of orthodox Brahmanism with a new form of expression of Śaiva knowledge, and, on the other, around the figure of the king, which Śiva can represent, and of the brahmin, the purohita, embodied by Brahmā. This particular alliance seems to reach a culmination with the appearance, towards the end of the 9th century, of a series of Śaiva images, exceptional in their scarcity, and in their iconography, ostensibly inspired by that of Brahmā.

Virginie OLIVIER studied Sanskrit and art history, specialising in the art and archæology of India and the Indianised countries of Southeast Asia. She graduated from the École du Louvre and continued her studies at the University of Paris-Sorbonne where she completed in 2018 a Ph.D. thesis: La représentation de l'ordre socio-cosmique: interprétation du rôle de Brahmā dans la sculpture du Tamil Nadu et du Deccan du 6ème au 9ème siècle. Her research focuses on Hindu sculpture and iconography, particularly on the figures embodying sacred knowledge and temporal power in the temple.

XVII – Jain images, Hindu images, K. Ladrech

This paper is a case study of Hindu-Jain interaction in the sculpture of Tamiḻnāṭu. Fieldwork and epigraphical data are scrutinised in order to recognise divine images of shifting identity. It examines figures of the Jain pantheon borrowed from Hindu deities (such as Bhairava-Kṣetrapāla and Brahmadeva), as well as Hindu conversions of Jain images. Attention is given to conversion of Jain sites (with Jain images): for example, Jain eremitic places such as Aivarmalai, Kaḻukumalai, Tirumūrttimalai, or one temple with attached Jain scholars in Nākarkōvil, have become, in a recent past, active Hindu shrines. In a few cases, the appropriation process involves slight alterations of the original images – Trimūrti in Puttūrmalai, Attāḷi Ammaṉ in Āḻiyāṟu.

Karine LADRECH was awarded a B.A. in Indian studies by Sorbonne Nouvelle University in 2001 and a Ph.D. in Art history by Sorbonne University in 2004. She teaches history of Indian art at Sorbonne University since 2008, and is a member of the research team CREOPS (Paris-Sorbonne Research center on the Far East). Her main research interests relate to Śaiva iconography and the Jaina heritage of Tamil Nadu; she is the author of a book on Śiva-Bhairava’s iconography in South India (2010) and co-author of a DVD-Rom on the Jain sites of Tamil Nadu (2018).

XVIII – Visual arts and epigraphical poetry, É. Parlier-Renault

The Gaṅgādhara image of Tiruccirāppaḷḷi, and the inscription in kāvya style engraved in the same monument, set a pattern for a dialogue between visual arts and poetry that enlightens us on the many implicit meanings that iconographical choices and variations may assume. Just as the eulogies of the different dynasties of India used to borrow from each other certain expressions and metaphors, the figures they chose to represent in their monuments echo one another. The article focuses on this parallel process. It analyses the interplay between inscriptions and images, and tries to highlight their connection to earlier and later examples.

Édith PARLIER-RENAULT is professor of South and South Asian art history at Sorbonne Université and director of the Centre de recherches sur l’Extrême-Orient à Paris-Sorbonne (CREOPS, Paris-Sorbonne Research center on the Far East). Her main area of interest is Hindu iconography. She published a book on Deccan and South Indian temples between the 6th and the 8th centuries (Temples de l’Inde méridionale: la mise en scène des mythes, PUPS, Paris, 2006) and a general introduction to Indian Art (L’Art indien: Inde, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Asie du Sud-Est, PUPS, Paris, 2010), as well as several articles on Hindu and Buddhist sculpture.

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