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Conjeeveram. Vishnu Temple. Gopuram

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CollectionsArthur Llewellyn Basham
Title: Conjeeveram. Vishnu Temple. Gopuram
Author(s): Photographer: Arthur Llewellyn Basham
Keywords: Pallava-- Kanchipuram (Conjeeveram) - Pallava;architecture;slide set
Series/Report no.: Basham Collection
Description: The gopuram or four-sided gateway forming the roof of the temple in the southern architectural style, symbolizes, as does its northern counterpart, the sikhara, the celestial sphere of the god whose earthly residence is the sacred temple site. A rich proliferation of ornamental friezes composes te gopuras, these containing innumerable divine figures emanating in every direction on the roof line and representing the strength of the central image in the innermost shrine or cella. All the energy imbued in the roof figures is but a manifestation of the main god's implied powers and therefore symbolically as well as structurally active in the temple's architectural systems as a whole. Vishnu temples, as opposed to Siva temples, always harbor an anthropomorphic image of the god. If Vishnu is represented as the Narasimha (lion-man), the temple would be erected as to have its back toward the nearest village, for the fierce power of the god should not be directed toward mankind. If, on the other hand, the god is represented with his consort Laksmi, their common temple should face the village, for this is Vishnu's benevolent manifestation. The former kind of Vishnu shrine is built primarily to ward off evil demons while the second type is built to radiate goodness into the village proper.
Other Identifiers: ANUA 682-1824


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