Sculptures as the Trademark of Sovereignty in the Hoysaḷa Kingdom




Hoysaḷa, Kālāmukha, Karnataka, royal legitimation


Among the various sculptures created by Hoysaḷa artists between the 12th and 13th centuries emerges a curious iconographic couple: a man wearing a long robe and an unusual headdress, accompanied by a woman, completely naked, with sandals on her feet, surrounded by snakes. Both these figures have a stick. The recurrence of this subject in many temples and the important position in the register of sculptures suggest that this iconography was already codified in the early 12th century, that is during the rise of the dynasty. The focus of my study is to analyze the development of these representations in correlation with the religious and political context: at the beginning the two iconographies were sculpted together, while in the course of time they began to be carved separately. This new exploration adds to the iconographic analysis and the study of the epigraphic sources and it aims at relating the artistic production with the construction and legitimation of the dynasty. Controversial interpretations of the meaning of these representations open up a lively debate about local cults in medieval Karnataka and the versatile royalty of the Hoysaḷa dynasty.

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How to Cite

Bignami, Cristina. 2016. “Sculptures As the Trademark of Sovereignty in the Hoysaḷa Kingdom”. Cracow Indological Studies 18 (December):169-209.

Funding data

  • Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
    Grant numbers “Kings of the Wild: Re-use of Vedic and local elements in the legitimation process of Medieval Karnataka” (ZUK 63)