Lecture: The Great Temple at Thanjavur – One Thousand Years, 1010 to 2010 Old Problems, New Thoughts

The Great Temple at Thanjavur: One Thousand Years, 1010 to 2010. Old Problems, New Thoughts.

Special Public Lecture by alumnus and Professorial Associate Dr. George Michell at the Faculty of Architecture Building and Planning.

The millennial anniversary of the great temple at Thanjavur has been the occasion for the publication of a splendid Marg volume co-authored by George Michell and Indira Viswanathan Peterson, and illustrated by photographs by Bharath Ramarutham. One of the aims of this work was to re-examine the historical context of the foundation of the temple under Rajaraja I, and its original programme of stone sculptures and bronzes, as well as its murals, which are now accessible via a splendid new set of digital images commissioned by the Archaeological Survey of India office in Chennai.
While the temple is familiar to art historians, a number of difficulties in interpreting the temple’s architecture and art remain, and George Michell would like to offer some new thoughts. He will discuss the problems in determining the precise foundation date of the temple; the possibility of there being an upper sanctuary dedicated to Nataraja reached by a double-storeyed mandapa; the curious fact that the sculpted icons of Shiva on the temple are wider than the actual wall openings; and the somewhat misleading earlier identifications of the royal portraits in the murals on the passageway walls surrounding the linga sanctuary. He will then consider the periods of neglect that the temple was subjected to, and the renewal and expansion of the monument under various Nayaka and Maratha patrons, thereby fleshing out the thousand years of the temple’s varied history.
Dr. George Michell received a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Melbourne, and then obtained his Ph.D. in 1974 from the School of Oriental African Studies, University of London. George Michell has made a prolific contribution to scholarship in India. Among his most recent publications are: “Kashgar: Oasis City on China’s Old Silk Road”, with Marika Vicziany and John Gollings, Frances Lincoln, London, 2008, and “The Great Temple at Thanjavur: One Hundred Years, 1010-2010”, with Indira Viswanathan Peterson and Bharath Ramamrutham, Marg Publications, Mumbai, 2010.
Date: Wednesday 13 April at 7:00pm in the
Venue: Prince Philip Theatre, Ground Floor, Architecture Building, The University of Melbourne, Parkville

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