The Banyan tree is a symbol of the Trimurti, or the triad of the three gods Vishnu, represented by the bark, Brahma by the roots and Shiva by the branches. A Banyan tree dominates Daniell’s depiction of the temples at Agori on the river Son (now in Mirzapur District, Uttar Pradesh), whose tall pyramidal towers, or sikharas, are typical of North India. In a central recess of the multiple trunk of the tree four figures are depicted around the fecundity shrine of the linga-yoni.
This aquatint from the King’s Topographical Collection was published as plate 19 in the first of the six series that formed Daniell's Oriental Scenery, published between 1795 and 1808. Between 1786 and 1794, Daniell had travelled throughout India with his nephew William Daniell (1769–1837) as his assistant. These 144 coloured views of Mughal and Dravidian monuments, cityscapes, mountains and waterfalls produced with the aid of a camera obscura became their best-known and most successful work. Years later, in his Picturesque Voyage to India (1810), Thomas Daniell would refer to the Banyan tree as a ‘symbol of pastoral peace and patriarchal longevity’, which he found evocative of Milton’s fig tree in Paradise Lost.
- Full title:
- HINDOO TEMPLES AT AGOUREE, ON THE RIVER SOANE, BAHAR. : NO.XIX. / DRAWN AND ENGRAVED BY THOS DANIELL.
- September 1796, London
- Robert Bowyer
- Etching / Hand-Colouring / Aquatint / View
- Thomas Daniell
- Held by:
- British Library
- 10 TAB.30.(1).
- Article by:
- Christiana Payne
Christiana Payne explores prints and drawings in the King's Topographical Collection which depict celebrated and culturally meaningful trees.