Skip to main content

Main Building

Pillared Temple Hall

c. 1560
Artist/maker unknown, Indian

Fifty-eight sixteenth-century granite architectural elements are presented within the museum gallery in an arrangement designed to resemble a South Indian temple hall (mandapam). In 1913 these pieces lay discarded at the small Madanagopalaswamy Temple in Madurai, where a Philadelphia couple purchased them while on their two-year-long honeymoon. But recent research supports that the majority were created for the large Kudal Alagar Temple nearby. There they had been part of a shrine to the goddess Lakshmi, wife of the Hindu deity Vishnu. This shrine had become dilapidated, and the temple authorities dismantled it by 1907, completing its replacement by 1923.

Stone slabs between the lion brackets depict several scenes from the Ramayana, the epic tale of one of Vishnu's earthly incarnations. They once formed parts of a carved frieze showing the entire story. The life-size figures projecting from pillars are deities and mythological characters, including from the Ramayana. The many small images on the pillars include gods and heroes as well as humans (like an architect with his measuring stick).

...

Object Details

We are always open to learning more about our collections and updating the website. Does this record contain inaccurate information or language that you feel we should improve or change? Contact us here.

Please note that this particular artwork might not be on view when you visit. Don’t worry—we have plenty of exhibitions for you to explore.


Main Building