Monday, August 11, 2014
Pradeep Chakravarthy is a management consultant. But he is more than that, as well. He is deeply interested in the history and heritage - of this part of the world, specifically. He has written "Thanjavur: A Cultural History" and has also been the editor of a collection of writings on Kodaikanal. So, when he announces that he is going to lead a session to explain the basic differences between the Pallava, Chola and Vijayanagara styles, there is a rush to be part of that session. We were lucky to get in, and there we were at the Museum on Sunday morning.
Basically: the Pallavas were the earliest of the three - their sculptures of Gods, or humans, were natural, showing them in relaxed postures, low on detailing, oval faces, cylindrical headgear. Through the Chola period, the figures became more stylized, the headgear conical, faces rounder and the body began to take postures that would have been difficult to sustain in real life. The volume of sculptures grew through the Chola and the Vijayanagara dynasties, and they became more 'industrialized'; templated designs and details, churned out by moderately skilled craftsmen, sacrificing originality and natural representation for the ease of mass production.
There were more details, and Pradeep weaved them into a tapestry of how life must have been in those days of yore; it was a compelling performance. The importance of noticing details, which is what helps you become a more-than-an-open-mouthed-gaper, was especially brought out right at the start. What most people would consider to be run of the mill stone columns near the statue of the Buddha are actually columns from the Pallava era, with inscriptions revealing what the king Mahendravarman considered himself to be. For more on that, over to Pradeep himself!