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Remaking the past: Tamil sacred landscape and temple renovations

Branfoot, Crispin (2013) 'Remaking the past: Tamil sacred landscape and temple renovations.' Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 76 (1). pp. 21-47.

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Abstract

This article explores the repeated renovation of south Indian temples over the past millennium and the conception of the Tamil temple-city. Though the requirement for renovation is unremarkable, some “renovations” have involved the wholesale replacement of the central shrine, in theory the most sacred part of the temple. Rather than explaining such radical rebuilding as a consequence of fourteenth-century iconoclasm, temple renovation is considered in this article as an ongoing process. Several periods of architectural reconstruction from the tenth to the early twentieth centuries demonstrate the evolving relationship between building, design and sacred geography over one millennium of Tamil temple history. The conclusion explores the widespread temple “renovations” by the devout Nakarattar (Nattukottai Chettiar) community in the early twentieth century, and the consequent dismay of colonial archaeologists at the perceived destruction of South India’s monumental heritage, in order to reassess the lives and meanings of Tamil sacred sites. Keywords: South India, Tamil, Architecture, Temple, Conservation, Renovation, Chola, Nayaka, Nattukottai Chettiar

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Keywords: South India, Tamil, Architecture, Temple, Conservation, Renovation, Chola, Nayaka, Nattukottai Chettiar
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of Arts > Department of the History of Art & Archaeology
Legacy Departments > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Department of History of Art and Archaeology
ISSN: 0041977X
Depositing User: Crispin Branfoot
Date Deposited: 16 Jan 2013 09:29
URI: http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/14759

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