Monday, September 13, 2010


Social scenes from terra cotta temples  - I : A kaleidoscope of human emotions

An onlooker indeed !The other 'peeping out' panel I have come across is 
in the hexagonal temple @ Ilambazar,Dt _ Birbhum.

Now is the time to look into the social scenes of terra cotta temples - so much about these panels have been written by Zulekha Haque ( photo of the cover of the book  titled 'Terracotta Decorations of Late Medieval  Bengal - Portrayal of a society' not avaible in the Internet. Refer to : ) and David McCuchion.

Refer -

Sribati is avillage 15 km off  the road connecting Calcutta with Katwa.One can reach these temples by car or train/bus - vide my friend Rangan Dutta's article in the Telegraph -

You will find about these temples' history from Rangan's article. I shall go direcly into the specifics of my subject.The three temple of Sribati are smaller than many of the more famous of this genre - but, what I enjoyed in these temples was is the quality of story-telling I have come across not many times.

Return of the prodigal.The king wipes the tear  from the face of the queen he left behind years ago.
The onlookers have not been placed correctly on this panel - they should have been placed on the right side.

I read about a folk-tale about a  king marrying twice. The second marriage took place when he wandered away to another place .The pining and devotion of the  1st wife  forms a large of the story. The story also describes how she tharted the advance of a local powerful man to entice her to his bed. The king returns after a long time with his second wife t his kingdom. While I was going through the photos I took in the temple, I realised this panel tells the story of the return of the prodigal.

At a courtesans' boudoir.

The other panel I fell in love with depicts  a courtesns' place.  The courtesan on the lefthand side has been wooed by a man while the unsuccessful  bidder looks stands grumpily.The third courtesan is enjoying the process of wooing. The couple in the extreme  righthand corner of this  panel is engaged in a close embrace , oblivious of the people around. All these characters are placed on a very ornate band of abstract motifs.

Resting after the act ?

The above panel was not easy to was nearly hidden under the cobwebs and dust. The features of the man and his lover have been ravaged by weather. The postures -  the woman staring at the face of her lover while her head rests on his lap and the lover's hand touches the thigh of the woman - is very sensuous.No onlookers here - the couple rest in privacy

I end with a panel showing an elderly couple on the bed. We see their faces and upper torsos resting on big pillows, the man trying to caress the face of his old lover,partly undressed, her face shows reluctance to be drawn to the act !

The reluctant partner.

When my wife Ruby I were ending taking photographs, the sun was at the western horizon.A panel on boats caught my notive.... but light was not satisfactory. When I 'photoshopped' the panel, I found a 'story' emerged from the same. Look at the postures of the boatmen -  don't you think they are sharing  'droll stories' ?

What are the 'naughty' stories these whispering boatmen are sharing  ?

Is he reluctant  or afraid that his wife will wake up to catch them  ?

This is a funny situation. The apparently pious husband is being wooed by a very much decked up woman, while his wife is asleep. He appears to be reluctant. Whether it is because he does not want his wife to discover  his  infiedelity or he is genuilely pious and monogamous is left to the imagination of the viewer .


  1. wonderful work you are doing here....
    plz do continue...... my best wishes!!

  2. yes please carry on this quest and enlighten persons like me.
    i am amazed by the first image,beyond expectations and 2 boat men , fantastic !