Andhra Pradesh

Study explores anthropometric features of ancient Indian art

Barun Mandalexplaining the scale and proportion of a sculpture at Pushpagiri temple in Kadapa district.  

Ancient Indian sculptures are admired for its grandiosity. But, their adherence to scientific principles in terms of anthropometric parameters is hardly a point of discussion.

Here is a study that has comprehensively unravelled the features of idols etched on the walls of temples that have not only achieved the perfect symmetry, but also excelled in adherence to the scale and proportion.

The artists of this era extensively depend on technological devices and software tools, but imagine the perfection achieved in those days when sculptors had the only option of open eye measurement.

“Scale and proportion are among the most important principles in art and design that have been followed since the time immemorial. The parameters also tell about of an artist’s philosophy. Apart from its mythological significance, iconography in the form of relief sculpture (wall-etched) is used to narrate a story,” says Barun Mandal, a faculty member of painting at the College of Fine Arts of the Dr. YSR Architecture and Fine Arts University (YSRAFU), Kadapa.

Mr. Mandal, who is studying the sculptures from the Vijayanagara era at Siddavatam Fort, Pushpagiri and Vontimitta temples, lays emphasis on the scale and proportion, not just as an artist, but as a product designer too.

Referring to the Ganga and Yamuna icons etched on the west gate of the Pushpagiri temple, he finds those perfectly in 1:2 ratio with the average height of an Indian.

“Ganga is a high relief (deeply-etched) sculpture shown as a young woman adorned with jewellery, standing in the Tribhanga pose on a Makara. As per the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), the average height of Indian man and woman has been revised to 5 feet and 8 inches, and 5 feet and 3 inches respectively, which was 5 feet and 6 inches, and 5 feet and 2 inches earlier. When computational measurement is applied to the art, the proportion is perfect in terms of the total height and the size of the body organs,” explains Mr. Mandal.

According to him, the Indian images are portrayed as ‘healthy and happy figures’ when compared to the western art.

Even as the study is at the personal level, Mr. Mandal intends to bring students of art to such sites including Gandikota, other places of artistic significance in Kadapa district, to explain the art history and its evolution with a reference to the change of dynasties.


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Printable version | Dec 8, 2021 2:40:53 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/study-explores-anthropometric-features-of-ancient-indian-art/article37081278.ece

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