The sensuous human figure, elegant, adorned, and eyecatching, was the dominant feature of the artistic tradition of pre-modern India. The body in the Indian tradition is always the body richly adorned. Alamkara or adornment protects the body, making it complete and attractive; to be unornamented is to invite misfortune. This book draws upon a variety of literary sources which focus on the sensuous body—literature of court poets, hymns of saints and acharyas, and inscriptional verses—to illuminate the world of sculpted and painted form.
The book examines the coexistence of images of the sensuous and the sacred within the common boundaries of various “sacred spaces”. It also considers the apparent paradox of sensuous divinities in the context of the passionate poetry addressed to gods and goddesses by their closest devotees, the saints and acharyas. It explores the easy insertion of the gods into the world of men in a genre of non-sacred Rajput painted manuscripts. The Body Adorned is unique in bringing together visual and verbal material to generate an all-inclusive picture of the cultural ethos of pre-modern India.
About the Author
Vidya Dehejia holds the Barbara Stoler Miller Chair in Indian Art at Columbia University, New York. She has combined research with teaching and exhibition-related activities around the world.