[INDOLOGY] the introduction of stone temples and sculture by the Pallavas

Tieken, H.J.H. (Herman) H.J.H.Tieken at hum.leidenuniv.nl
Tue Mar 8 09:27:10 UTC 2022

Dear List members,

I have a question concerning art history. When the Pallavas introduced stone temples and sculpture they are said to break a taboo, as in the South stone (rock) is believed to be inhabited by the souls of the death. For this idea reference is made to the earlier megalithic culture in South India and the so-called hero stones mentioned in Caṅkam poetry (Francis 2013, e.g. p. 46, Lefèvre 2006, e.g. pp. 244-5). It would thus be an exclusively South Indian taboo. My question is, if this same taboo is also met with in North India. If not, the idea will, at least in my opinion, have to be given up, resting as it does on one foot only, as the hero stones will have to be struck from the list. The hero stones are boundary stones, dangerous spots where warriors die and become heroes, and, more importantly, the earliest examples belong to the Pallava period (Rajan 2000, p. 24), and even more importantly, there is no evidence that Caṅkam poetry is pre-pallava.

With kind regards, Herman
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