Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Lupadahke: Sculpture telling histories

By Syed Wajid
Updated: June 29, 2020 7:10 pm

The more you delve into the fold of studying the sculptors of ancient India the deeper they go and bring out numerous untouched aspects of history that unfold myriad layers of varied eras.

The book Lupadahke – ‘Unknown Master Sculptors of Ancient India’, one of a kind, catches a glimpse of the face of Indian Sculpture. Deepak Kannal and Kanika Gupta have eloquently penned the book blended with sublime beauty of the stones sculpted and mesmeric anecdotes anchoring the stony oeuvre. Kanika, a scholar and writer, has assisted Professor Kannal in content writing for 35 modules on History of Indian Sculpture.

The Master Sculptors emerged as markers who stood at the most significant turning points of the history of Indian Sculpture.

This historical document attempts to understand the history of Indian sculptures and acknowledge the existence of artists whose identities were neglected until they were reduced to being anonymous.

The story, well recounted, gives a detailed insight into the ruins shaped to give an account of yesteryear.  The book, authored in a language too lucid and coherent, brimmed with pristine traditions in an aesthetic segment, tries to identify numerous masters of Indian Sculpture from different eras and lineages. This emphasises certain aspects: sculptural history in ancient India is believed cursed with anonymity and the same anonymity was romanticised by many later on. This focusing on stylistic typologies and morphological developments attempts to draw attention to the glyptic aesthetics of the spatial creations in India. In a concluding note, the coffee table book addresses the art lovers with a view to enriching their understanding of Indian culture and aesthetics. Western history is defined by eras of art like the Archaic, Gothic or the Renaissance, Indian art cannot be consorted with the parabolic theory of JJ Wincklemann as art in India evolves every now and then with external inputs.

The book talks about designs of the sculptor during the Gupta dynasty and shows that the standardisation can as well be seen in the Chola bronzes, like the sculpture of the Sembiyan Mahadev.

India has a great tradition in aesthetic theorisation but surprisingly it has totally ignored the possibilities of critiquing a specific aesthetic manifestation. Indian aesthetic tradition does not reveal a single occurrence of any theoretical or critical analysis of a particular creation: literary, performative or visual.

It is ironical that the very maker of sculptural history in ancient India is cursed with anonymity. For various reasons, the sculptural tradition of this country is tight-lipped about its creative geniuses.  A very few stray names of artists surface from some myths, texts or inscriptions but they cannot be associated with any of the known sculptural manifestations. Despite a long inventory of publications on Indian sculpture, why have the sculptors in ancient India sunk into oblivion for one reason or other?

It also talks about giving a thought to the artistic component of this discipline.

The author touches many unexplored avenues; Between Cults and Kings, Lupadhake: The Masters of Form and Kandariki: The Unknown Terrains have expounded on the subject. The writers with a lot of legwork and travelling to explore layers are candidly vocal about many hidden aspects related to varied ancient Indian sculptural activities.

The book in plain English encompasses every single detail of varied peoples lived in those eras. I personally found the book truly comprehensive and unputdownable for art lovers. The pace is rather slow but gripping enough to unfold divine mystery shrouded in history; still untold!

 

By Syed Wajid

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