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The sensuous human figure, elegant, adorned, and eyecatching, was the dominant feature of the artistic tradition of pre-modern India. The powerful god Shiva, greatest of yogis, destroyer of demonic forces that threaten the world, is portrayed as the most beautiful of beings, ?the thief who stole my heart away? in the words of Saint Appar. On the other hand, beautiful stone dancers on temple walls pirouette seductively to display their elegant forms. The body of the Indian tradition is always the body richly adorned. Alankara or adornment protects the body, making it completeand attractive; to be unornamented is to invite misfortune. This book draws upon a variety of literary sources which focus on the sensuous body?literature of court poets, hymns of saints and acharyas, and inscriptional verses?to illuminate the world of sculpted and painted form.
The book examines the coexistence of images of the sensuous and the sacred within the common boundaries of various ?sacred spaces.? It also considers the apparent paradox of sensuous divinities in the context of the passionate poetry addressed to gods and goddesses by their closest devotees, the saints and acharyas. It explores the easy insertion of the gods into the world of men in a genre of non-sacred Rajput painted manuscripts. The Body Adorned is unique in bringing together visual andverbal material to generate an all-inclusive picture of the cultural ethos of pre-modern India.
About the Author
Vidya Dehejia holds the Barbara Stoler Miller Chair in Indian Art at ColumbiaUniversity, New York. Her recent publications include Chola: Bronzes from SouthIndia (2006) and Phaidon?s Art and Ideas series (2007 reprint).
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
Preface and Acknowledgments
The Body as Leitmotif
The Idealized Body and Ornament
The Sensuous Within Sacred Boundaries
To the Divine through Beauty
Inserting the Gods into the World of Men: Rajput Painted Manuscripts
The Body Revealed and Concealed: Issues of intention and Perception