Sculpture of Khajuraho Temples
Khajuraho Temples are made mostly with sand-stone of variety of colours from pale buff, yellow and pink and brown. There are certain temples in which Granite stone is also used. Carving work on Granite is comparatively tough. On the other hand as Sand-stone is softer than Granite, sculpturer might have considered this property also while choosing the stone for most of the Temples. In ancient times, sulpturers are known by the name of “Shilp-shastri” or “Shilpi” means one who do sculpture art. Finishing of Sand-stone is much fine and accurate.
Sculpture of Khajuraho can be divided into five broad categories.
» Cult images
» Family, attendant and enclosing divinities
» Heaven Nymphs
» Animals & other Species
» Miscellaneous themes like teacher & disciples, dancers, musicians etc
This category comprises formal cult-images sculptured almost completely in the round, and with strict conformity in canonical formulae. Such cult-images can be seen in most of the Western & Eastern group of Temples. Such images are mainly from Hindu religion and some of them are of Jain sect.
Family, attendant and enclosing divinities
This category comprises sculptures of family, their attendant and enclosing divinities. They are projected against the walls of Khajuraho Temples and are executed either in the round or in high or medium relief. Figures in sculpture posses iconographic qualities of cult-images of first category. Such figures are more formal. On the other hand remaining figures of god and goddesses which includes dikpalas (8 guardians of the quarters) are less formal. They can be distinguished by their peculiar head-dresses, mounts or some other special attributes, held usually in more than two hands.
This category consist of Heaven Nymphs, popularly known as apsaras and sura-sundaris, and they bags the title of most numerous sculpture and finest piece of art in Khajuraho. They are executed either in the round, high or medium relief o outer or inner walls, pillars and ceilings of temples. Such graceful nymphs are shown in wearing finely designed ornaments around neck, waists, wrist, arms and legs. If we observe carefully we can also find thin lining in designed pattern, around their waists, legs. They are not ornaments, but traditional Indian sarees (dress worn primarily by Hindu women). Most of the apsaras are shown in various dancing postures. If we carefully read their facial expressions we can conclude the emotions & moods the nymphs which distinguishes them from conventional nayikas. They are shown yawning, scratching, touching their breasts, disrobing, removing thorn from feet, fondling babies, playing with pets like parrot, playing flute & vina (Indian musical instrument), writing letters, looking mirror to do make-up etc.
Animals & Other Species
This category consists of sculptures of animals including the mythical sardula, the fabulous beast often represented as rampant horned lion with an armed human rider on its back. Here u can find sculpture of creature with lion’s body and head of some different creature. Here we can also find sculpture of elephants, lions, parrots, dragons like creatures. Each such creature has been display for particular reason & meaning like elephant depicted in a row (in Lakshmana Temple), use to welcome guests, lion shows strength & power. Similarly wild boar is depicted to show presense of hindu god like lord Vishnu who one look is of human body with head of wild boar. Nandi (Bull) has been carved is devoted to lord Shiva who rides on bull called Nandi.
According to art historian Krishna Deva, the sculptural art of Khajuraho surpasses the dedieval school of Orrisa in revealing the sensuous charms of human body. Khajuraho revellled in admiring the human body, displaying it from the most fascinating angles.
Temples with varying art-level
The classical flavour of the sculptures of Parsvanatha and Lakshmana temples is continued in Vesvanatha Temple, which has proportionate figures, displaying admirable poise and balance. The sculptures of Chitragupta and Jagadambi are some of the most artistic in Khajuraho.
The sculpture of Khajuraho attains its maturity in Kandariya Mahadev Temple, which displays human figures with distinctive physiognomy. The sculptures here are conspicuously slender and taller and show the richest variety of apsara figures. These sculptures represent the highest watermark of the characteristic art diction of Khajuraho. The Vamana and Adinatha temples carry on the sculptural tradition. The apsara here are shown striking many difficult, almost tortuous poses.
The sculptural art is on a clear decline in Javari and Chatrubhuja temples. These contain largely conventionalized figures without much life or expression. Duladeo represents the last flicket of the dying lamp. It combines highly dynamic and romantic sculptures such as those of dancing nymphs and flying vidyadharas, with degenerate, stereotyped and lavishly ornamented figures. As per historian Krishna Deva, plastically and iconographically, Duladeo marks the exhaustion of the remarkable vitality for which the Khajuraho sculptures are justly famous.
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