Sunday, February 26, 2012

A hermit and his penis. Monkey sex. At a temple :)

The temple at Srivaikuntam is at least 1,100 years old.  But then, it could be older, too.

To the local population, the age of the temple is immaterial--to them, it has always been there.  But, to an insanely curious person like me, this is a simple question for which detailed answers ought to be there on display boards, in printed materials, ... Could this temple be 1,500 years old? 2,000?  You see what I mean?

Of course, as a confirmed atheist, my interest in this is simply for a better understanding of the world around me and not for any religious salvation. Therefore, it is all the more an irony that here I am as an atheist trying to get the simplest of questions answered, while the true believers don't seem to be interested at all.

I was blown away by the complexity of the engineering and art at the temple.  I am one hell of a moron when it comes to anything related to the arts, and even more so when we talk art history.  Yet, yes, mind-blowing!

Lengthy corridors supported by stone columns, each from a single piece. Delicate carving of the stone to produce finely detailed sculptures.

All these done so many years ago.


The temple sculptures have a lot of secular art too--not mere religious ones.

I loved the piece below, which appears to depict a hunter who has returned with a heck of a prize, and perhaps an annoying thorn in the sole of his foot, which the woman is removing.  How neat, right? Simply beautiful.

And then there were art pieces that would make middle school students giggle, and people like me wish that somebody would explain the significance of such wonderful art from so many centuries ago.

In the carving on the left here, there is no doubt about the intention of the bearded male (no, not me!) who seems to be a hermit (no, not me!)

If Pinocchio's nose grew because of lying, well, this hermit's penis appears to reflect his thoughts of sex.

The fingers of the woman's left hand are also strategically placed.

I so wish I had taken art history!

There was a lot more to see, and there is a limit to how much I can take photos too.  If only I had been informed and alert about such fantastic art at temples even when I was way younger :(

It seemed that there has been extensive damage to quite a bit of the art in the areas exposed to the harshness that the sun, wind, and rain over the thousand-plus years.  One piece, up on the rim of a wall caught my attention:

I zoomed in to make sure I wasn't imagining what I thought I saw; you make the call:

One interpretation is that depiction of sex in the art in the outer areas of the temple was to remind the believers to leave their dirty thoughts outside, and enter the holy areas with a mind that was focused only on god.  Maybe.

Another interpretation is that temples were also the local art exhibits where the sculptors displayed their talents. Maybe.

Fascinating fodder for curious minds on sabbaticals :)

1 comment:

Ramesh said...

Now I wonder ...

Of all the art in the temple, how did you come to zero in on the hermit :):):)