This book is an offering to New Art History taking the study of Indian classical sculptural art and traditional Indian iconography to newer heights of interpretation. Sculptures of female figures in classical Indian architectural traditions have enjoyed a special placement and significance. Numerous engaging images of devanganas — the surasundari, apsaras and alasakanya figures — decorate walls, ceilings and doorways of Hindu temples in India. Viewing the devangana sculptures as a continuation of the yakshi sculptures of Buddhist and Jaina monuments and the concept of primordial mother goddesses of the Vedic times, this challenging work on the devangana sculptures studies the morphology, iconology and semiotic meanings of the devangana figures and their placement in monuments of Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh between the eighth and twelfth centuries ce.
In a path-breaking effort, the work focuses not on the much-discussed erotic and sexual connotations but explores their dynamic meanings in the religious and cultural consciousness which help to symbolise "the power of the female" in representational artistic traditions of India. For this, copious architectural and religious texts are examined. With more than 250 illustrations of temple sites and detailed sculptures, this book enquires into the imagery of these figures. A significant aspect of the research is its critiquing of the existing literature on the subject to come up with novel viewpoints and use of tools like dhvani theory, psychoanalysis and feminism to interpret the devangana sculptures.
The book will benefit young researchers, cultural enthusiasts and erudite scholars of Indian art and architecture focused on religious and cultural significance of India’s sculptural heritage.