INDIA, PART 9: THE SCULPTURES OF THE TEMPLES AT KHAJURAHO (NSFW)

 

You may not be aware of this, but outside of the Taj Mahal, the temples of a small village in Central India called Khajuraho  are the most frequently visited structures in India.  With little more than a chisel artists created sculptures that appear to dance and sway.  And they are very sensuous and what some might call erotic – so nota bene.

The temples were constructed between the 9th and 11th Centuries by the Chandela           Dynasty and although approximately 85 were constructed, only 25 are still standing. The town was a religious capital until the 14th Century.

The temples are striking examples of Medieval Indian architecture called Nagara and are constructed of sandstone in yellow and pink hues.

One temple, the Chausath Yogini temple was built in granite.

A Nagara style temple is generally built on a high platform  (jagati) made of stone bricks, Next there is a smaller platform of stones called pitha, followed by an even smaller platform, or adhisthana on which the pillars and walls of the temple are constructed.

The temples are intricately carved in delicate patterns,

 

 

They often look like the sand drop castles I used to make on the beach as a child.

The sculptures carved on these temples  set them apart and have elicited a vast number of reactions from visitors – they are sensual, explicit, alive with motion and emotion.  Some viewers are appalled, some embarrassed, others immensely fascinated (count me in the last section).  Before I exhibit some of these sculptures let me offer a few theories on why they were carved.

1 – The Chandela dynasty members are considered descendants of the celestial moon God Chandra. Moon imagery is often  associated with love so  sculptures depict human passions.

2 – Hindu religious beliefs. For example, one must  forego your worldly pleasures of lust,  desires, possessions, wealth before one can attain the higher levels of knowledge and truth on the way to Nirvana.  (The goal levels of Dharma, Kama, Moksha and others will be discussed in a later post).  The erotic sculptures are only found  on the outside walls of the temple.

3 – Tantric cult and beliefs.  It is believed that Khajuraho is charged with energy and controls the very essence of life, balancing body and mind together. Tantric love-making is  a metaphor for the sexual imagery of the life force – a union of Lord Shiva and Shakti, the personification of the Goddess Devi, who is Shiva’s  divine feminine consort..

4 – The sculptures served as kind of sex education manual. You are all probably familiar with the 2000 year-old Indian classic “Kama Sutra” which is still today valued by many as the premiere source of principles and techniques of sexual pleasure.

It is your choice to believe what you may – I find these statues incredibly beautiful – it is a wonder that stone can be carved to look alive in lithe grace and motion, even if in pursuit of physical pleasure.

I will note that the idealization of the human form is at times a bit fanciful or should I say a product of wishful thinking.  Men have endowments of superhuman size and women’s breasts defy gravity.  And both sexes have the dexterity, flexibility and limberness of an acrobat in the Cirque du Soleil.

Yoga only gets me so far…

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4 thoughts on “INDIA, PART 9: THE SCULPTURES OF THE TEMPLES AT KHAJURAHO (NSFW)

  1. Well in the 2nd pic, I still can’t figure out how the legs connect.
    Something occurred to me while working on my photos. What was going on in Europe at the time these temples were being built? Pretty much the dark ages.

    • As far as I can figure, it’s the man’s legs that are wrapped around the female with his left leg bent and lower half of it between her legs – and yes it was medieval times- but they did have the treatise of the Venerable Bede😉

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