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Views in Mysore. Ruined temple of Hallabeed [Hoysalesvara Temple, Halebid]. Carvings on N. west face

Views in Mysore. Ruined temple of Hallabeed [Hoysalesvara Temple, Halebid]. Carvings on N. west face

Photographer: Lyon, Edmund David

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1868

Shelfmark: Photo 212/6(32)

Item number: 212632

Genre: Photograph

Photograph from an album of 40 albumen prints by Edmund David Lyon. View of carved work and mouldings on the fa├žade of the mid-12th century Hoysaleshvara temple in Halebid, a small town in Karnataka, which was once prosperous as the seat of the Hoysala rulers. The Hoysalas were energetic temple builders and their architecture was embellished with precision-carved sculptural friezes as seen in this picture. Lyon wrote in his 'Notes to Accompany a Series of Photographs Prepared to Illustrate the Ancient Architecture of Southern India' (Marion & Co., London, 1870), edited by James Fergusson, that this photograph, '...represents another portion of the carvings on the north-west face of the building. The principal figure in the centre is an incarnation of Shiva... Further to the left, on the next block, under the regular canopy, is Saraswati, the Goddess of Wisdom, and the consort of Brahma. Other deities are represented in other parts of this wonderful series of sculptures, and there is, perhaps, hardly any god of the Hindu Pantheon as known in the thirteenth century, that does not here find a place. It may also be remarked, that though the temple was undoubtedly from its foundation, dedicated to Shiva and his worship, and he is everywhere the principal deity, all the other gods are represented with the same honours, and allowed their fair share of the space. Before leaving this temple, I may be allowed to quote some observations made by Mr. Fergusson in describing it. "It must not, however, be considered that it is only for patient industry that this building is remarkable. The mode in which the eastern face is broken up by the larger masses so as to give height, and play of light and shade, is a better way of accomplishing what the Gothic architects attempted by their transepts and projections. This, however, is surpassed by the western front, where the variety of outline, and the arrangement and subordination of the various facets in which it is disposed, must be considered a masterpiece of design in its class. If the frieze of gods were spread along a plain surface, it would lose more than half its effect; while the vertical angles, without interfering with the continuity of the frieze, give height and strength to the whole composition. The disposition of the horizontal lines of the lower friezes is equally effective; here again the artistic combination of horizontal with vertical lines, and the play of outline, and of light and shade, far surpass anything in Gothic art. The effects are just what the mediaeval architects were often aiming at, but they never attained them so perfectly as was done at Hallabeed."

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