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Bes, Lennart and Branfoot, Crispin (2024) '‘From all quarters of the Indian world’: The temple at Rameshvaram, Hindu kings and Dutch merchants.' Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 34 (2). pp. 325-359.

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On Rameshvaram island in the south-east corner of India lies one of Hinduism's most important temples—the Rāmanāthasvāmi, one of the four dhams (‘holy abodes’) and the site of two Śiva-liṅgas said to have been consecrated by Rāma himself. A temple has existed here since at least the eleventh century, although most of the present temple dates to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries when the island was protected by the Setupati rulers of nearby Ramnad. In several of the long corridors and halls for which this temple is famous are brightly painted life-sized standing images of over 100 male figures attached to columns. Though such images are characteristic of many south Indian temples from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, there are far more at Rameshvaram than at any other south Indian temple. This article examines the number, location, and significance of these numerous standing images within this temple. By exploring the significance of the temple as a long-standing site for the royal performance of devotion, this article seeks to address whether the great number and identity of the life-sized donor images can be explained by both Purāṇic ideas of kingship and seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Dutch observations of the pan-Indian status of the temple.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: South India, Tamil, Tamilnadu, Rameshvaram, Rameshwaram, Ramnad, Setupati, Hindu temple, portraiture, sculpture, patronage, kingship, pilgrimage, Dutch East India Company (VOC)
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of Arts > Department of the History of Art & Archaeology
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DH Netherlands (The Low Countries)
D History General and Old World > DS Asia
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General)
N Fine Arts > NA Architecture
N Fine Arts > NB Sculpture
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion
ISSN: 13561863
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 06 May 2023 09:43
Funders: Leverhulme Trust, Arts and Humanities Research Council

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