This work is a well-researched attempt to analyse the Vaishnava iconography of Orissa which is unique in that there are to be found an overwhelming number of Vishnu images in the region despite paucity of Vishnu temples and inscriptional evidence suggesting royal patronage. Dr. Donaldson here undertakes a detailed study under four heads: Vaishnava iconography proper including Hari-Hara and other composite images and those of Vishnu's female consorts; images of Vishnu in his different avataras; depiction of Balarama, Krishna and Jagannatha; and iconography of what are termed 'secondary figures' like Garuda and Hanumana. He presents various iconographic charts throughout the book on the basis of textual description of the many images and their representations in sculpture with a number of photographs of the images studied, he provides details on the physical attributes of each group of images and specific images and their evolving iconographic and stylistic peculiarities: such as the decline of a particular motif and the emergence of another depending on the popularity of sects. The author also traces with keen interest the influence of Vaishnavism on the iconographic programme and rituals of Shaiva temples, resulting in even joint worship of Vishnu and Shiva. For each type of iconography, the book cites examples of different Orissan temples and discusses the images in them.
The book would be of immense interest to scholars of religious studies and particularly those concerned with Hindu iconography.