Carvings of Wamana temple at Khujraho
Photographer: Dayal, Deen
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the sculptural decoration on the walls of the Vamana Temple at Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh, taken by Deen Dayal in 1871-72, part of the Bellew Collection of Architectural Views of India. The small town of Khajuraho in the Chatarpur district is the site of dozens of Shiva, Vishnu and Jaina temples, which were built between the 9th and 12th centuries under the aegis of the Chandella dynasty which ruled in central India. Of about 85 temples said to have been erected at this site only about twenty-five have survived. The compact temples, none of which are very large, stand on high plinths (jagatis) lifting them from their environs, instead of the usual enclosure walls. The sensuous sculptures that decorate them, some of which are explicitly erotic, are among the masterpieces of Indian art. The sculptures have been read as relating to Tantric practices, or illustrations of ancient treatises on sex. Notable for its sculptures, the Vamana Temple is a small sandstone edifice from the 11th century which enshrines a form of Vishnu, in his Vamana avatar or incarnation. The spire that covers the sanctuary is covered by bands with arch-like motifs and is crowned by an amalaka with a pot finial. The outer walls of the sanctuary and of the porch are decorated by rows of sculpture.