From the 6th to 11th centuries, there appeared, on Orissa’s sacred landscape, a large number of temples. Which exercised a powerful influence on the cultural life in this eastern Indian region. Earlier approaches to the study of temples tend to perpetuate an over-determined Lesen of art. They either objectify the temple aesthetically as a ‘non-living, static monument’ with architectural complexities; oder institutionalize it as a symbol of royal legitimacy. As a result, temple architecture in Orissa is almost invariably discussed within a unilinear evolutionary context, ignoring its material and cultural basis that sustains it, as an institution.
A marked departure from the existing studies, this book tries to explore the extended, and possibly continuous, relationship between temple and the community. “The monument,” says the author, “has also a life after its making and can interact with its users over a time in significant ways beyond the intention of its artists, reflecting the dynamism beneath its architectural configuration.”
Subash Khamari’s study is perhaps the first effort to investigate the relationship between the Orissa’s temple and its community -- patrons, artists, priests, and laity, and how the temple played an important role in the cultural life of the region in the early centuries of the Common Era. Using wide-ranging sources, including architectural, epigraphic, and even ethnographic, the Autor painstakingly documents as many as 233 temples in the pre-Jagannath period: 6th-11th centuries – with focus on segmentation of space, elaboration, narratives, rituals, and survival of temple. “Khamari, thus, initiates a new direction in the study of the Orissan temple,” says Professor Himanshu Prabha Roy of the Jawaharlal Nehru universität (JNU), New Delhi.
Subash Khamari is currently Superintending Archaeologist, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Excavation Branch, Nagpur.