Saturday, September 27, 2008

Chola Bronze Sculpture : A product of Tamil creative genius

Tamil Nadu in South India has a very rich heritage of bronze sculptures at various temples and ancient palaces. These sculptures are divinely fascinating to the senses and their artistic appeal is simply irresistible. These sensuous and sacred bronze icons, are full of mystery and ecstasy.

The Tamil Nadu bronze sculptures present a quality of everlasting beauty. The divine beauty, grace, elegance and rhythm of the dancing figures and the power and life that is manifested through them, place them amongst the masterpieces of the world.

The history of metal art in South India is very ancient and it is a living art to this day. This is kept alive by the ingenious craftsmen who have preserved the precious rare ancient texts on sculpture to this day.

Among the most renowned works of Indian sculptural art are the temple bronzes cast a thousand years ago during the Chola dynasty in the Tamil-speaking region of South India.

The Pallava dynasty laid down the foundation for bronze sculpture in South India but the art was continued and enriched by the Chola rulers. We don't have any metal image from the ancient Sangam Age of Tamil history. But the present craft of bronze casting starts from the time of the Pallavas (400 A.D.). But it was during the Chola perod (900 A.D.), that the art and craftsmanship of bronze-casting attained its maximum glory. After a period of about 400 hundred years, the craft degenerated.

The Chola bronzes are products of the Tamil creative genius during the period the great Chola dynasty ruled Tamil Nadu during the 9th to 13th Century. The four centuries of Chola rule, is regarded as the age of grandeur in the history of the Tamil people.

For more than four hundred years, from the ninth to the thirteenth century, the Chola dynasty was the dominant cultural, artistic, religious, and political force in south India. During the golden age of Chola rule, philosophy, poetry, music , dance, drama, and religious thought and the arts of sculpture, bronze-casting, jewelry-making, architecture and painting reached great heights. The temple was the center of all activity during the Chola period, and the Cholas built and decorated some of the most beautiful and finest temples in south India. These temples are the centres of great tourist attraction today with visitors from all over the globe.

Hundreds of Cholza bronze icons have been smuggled out of India and have found their place into the private museums of art-collectors. The Chola bronze, Nataraja of Sivapuram became immensely famous for its price tag of 100 million dollars. What makes these Cholza bronzes so unique and so expensive in the art-market? The answer lies in their exotic beauty, their elegance, their grace and the way in which they are made,ie,the art of bronze- casting.

The Sensuous , Sacred and the exquisite temple bronzes produced during the Chola period is a time of unparalleled creativity in the history of the Indian subcontinent.

In some of the forthcoming articles im my Blog, I will direct my readers to some of the finest stores in India, where they can purchase these divinely beautiful , exquisite Chola bronze icons for decorating their living rooms and gardens. It is a living art in India to this day, in spite of many centuries of foreign invasions and Colonial rule.

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