Wednesday, December 7, 2011



'Raasa Leela'. 29th to 33rd Chapters,10th Canto, SriMadbhagat.
Apart from Krsna, there are at least 48 human figures in this Composite Wall-relief.
Words cannot describe the ethereal beauty of this Wall-relief when Shyama Raya temple is lit up.

Shyam Raya temple of Bishnupur is a trend-setter in more ways than one in the 'art' of terra cotta temple. Creating a terra cotta wall-relief has many limitations - one of that is the unit size.  The artists' combined efforts at Shyam Raya temple created the iconic 'Raasa Leela' panel  . Scores of terra cotta temples have been built over two centuries after the one dedicated to Shama Raya  - but, this panel  still stands out.

 Displays in the best of our terra cotta temples have one limitation in common - size of a wall-relief. Artists of several temples have beaten and overcome this limitation creating a big canvass through - shall I say 'composites' - and telling a story in each of this canvasses. Almost all these canvasses are located  above/around  the arches at the entrance - 'Rasa Leela' of Shyama raya temple being an exception. Quite a few keep us beholden by their beauty and splendour.  A few more are here for the eyes of who enjoy terra cotta art.

The stories here are from our scriptures. The battle of Lanka is the most-seen theme. Only a few temples can boast of originality - I have picked up the one which has impressed me most. No large canvass from Mahabharata has  been created at all  - very surprising indeed ! Rama & Sita in Ayodhya in their full glory has inspired the artisans of several temples and I have brought that 'canvass' which I felt is the most most elegant one.

 The most carefully 'evolved' and executed Ramayana's Yuddha scene  
among terra cotta temples of Bengal.  
Ravana, taller than all others around him, in  a posture of submission and prayer 
as Rama  releases 'Brahmastra'. Celestial viewers witness the scene while Bibheesan stands aloof and still. 
Right-hand side temple @ Baronagar complex, District Murshidabad.

Kali the Fierce and the 'no-holds-barred' war  around Her. 
Her soldiers and those of  from the demons' side  are literally at each others' throat. Some of them are riding horses, elephants and camels. Yet others are on foot. The weapons they wield are swords,spears, shafts and their own claws.
Antpur temple, District Hoogly.

Rama & Seeta on throne @ the court of Ayoddha.
Wall-relief demonstrates remarkable European influence in layout & dresses 
the characters present wear.
Pratepswar temple, Kalna.


  1. Delightfully beautiful terracotta work that has also withstood the wear & tear of time