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Introduction on Rashtrakuta

Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 2:25 AM
Dancer Chola In the eighth century, the Early Western Chalukya power came to an end and the Rashtrakutas under Dantidurga asserted themselves. Dantidurga was followed by his uncle Krishna I who was not only a great ruler but was the creator of an undoubtedly unique monument in the Deccan, the Kailasanatha temple at Ellora, carved out of living rock. The glory of this monument has an effective description in the Baroda grant of Karka Suvarnavarsha. It is here given that 'a gaze at this wonderful temple on the mountain of Elapura makes the astonished immortals, coursing the sky in celestial cars, always wonder whether "this is surely the abode of Svayambhu Siva and not an artificially made (building). Has ever greater beauty been seen?" Verily even the architect who built it felt astonished, saying, "The utmost perseverance would fail to accomplish such a work again. Ah! how has it been achieved by me?" and by reason of it, the king was caused to praise his name.

Krishna had thus paid a tribute to the aesthetic taste of Vikramaditya, a scion of the vanquished dynasty, as also an appreciation of the earlier defeated southern power at Kanchi, which was the source of this artistic appeal. The Kailasa temple was fashioned after the Pattadakal temples which in turn were executed by a great sutradhari named Sarvasiddhiacharya of the southern country, the subjugated area from Kanchi.

Flying Vidyadharas  The remarkable similarity in details noticed in the Kailasa temples at Ellora and Kanchi made Professor Jouveau Dubreuil look for and discover paintings in the latter; how he found the clue to these in the former and how amply his search bore fruit is only too well known, though the paintings may be fragmentary.

The paintings at Ellora cover the ceilings and walls of the mandapas and represent not only the iconographic forms but also the lovely floral designs and animals and birds entwining in the patterns. The beautiful elephant amidst a lotus pattern in gorgeous colour now partially faded is as lively as probably some of the other figure drawings. The Nataraja here is a splendid example of the Chalukya type and has to be compared with the earlier one at Badami. The figure is multiarmed and the dance is in the chatura pose. The anatomy of figure, the details and the ornamentation closely follow that of sculpture, including such minute details as the pattern of the jatamakuta, the elaboration of decoration and so forth. It is one of the most beautifully preserved panels at Ellora. The figure of Lakshminarayana on Garuda is also interesting. In this can be noticed the peculiar eyes and the pointed nose in the three-quarter view which later became a distinguishing feature of the western Indian paintings from Gujarat of the fourteenth-fifteenth centuries A.D.

Heavenly musiciansFlying Vidyadharas with their consorts, against a back-ground of trailing clouds, musical figures and other themes closely follow the earlier Chalukya tradition. A comparison of these Vidyadhara figures with similar ones from the Badami caves of an earlier date would clearly reveal this. The colour patterns, the composing of one dark against another fair, the muktayajnopavita of the male and the elaborate dhammilla of the female figure, the flying attitude, etc., are all incomparable. The Jain cave towards the end of the group of caves at Ellora has its entire surface of ceiling and wall covered with paintings with a wealth of detail. There are scenes illustrating Jain texts and decorative patterns with exuberant floral, animal and bird designs. These, along with the cave, are to be dated a century after the Kailasa temple, the great monument of the Rashtrakuta, Krishna.

Writer – C.Sivaramamurti

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