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Royal Imagery & Networks of Power at Vijayanagara- A Study of Kingship in South India

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Item Code: HAJ343
Author: Nalini Rao
Publisher: Originals, Delhi
Language: English
Edition: 2010
ISBN: 9788184540918
Pages: 188 (With Color Illustrations)
Other Details 11.00 X 9.00 inch
Weight 1.03 kg
Book Description

About The Book

Royal Imagery and Networks of Power at Vijayanagara: A Study of Kingship in South India brings a unique perspective to the study of kingship in South India by understanding Vijayanagara as a collection of neighborhoods centered around shared religious, economic, and political landmarks, where art and architecture were a visual form of power that sustained the people, capital, and kingdom between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries A.D.

An analytical study of the artistic remains found in Vijayanagara from the perspective of networks of authority and exchange and an examination of secular sculpture and architecture in Vijayanagara in terms of the dynamics of royal power, this book offers a new outlook on our understandings of the nature, role, and institution of kingship as a semi-structured yet cohesive system of power.

About the Author

Nalini N. Rao, Professor of World Art at Soka University of America, California holds a Ph.D. in Ancient History and Archaeology from the University of Mysore and a Ph.D. in Art History from the University of California, Los Angeles. She is the author of Boundaries and Transformations (1997), co-author of Contours of Modernity (2005), and editor of Sangama: A Confluence of Art and Culture During the Vijayanagara Period (2006). Currently, Rao is involved in a number of research projects including, including a study of South Indian Monasteries, Sarasvati Valley Civilization, and Contemporary Art of India.


Royal Imagery and Networks of power at Vijayanagara: A Study of Kingship in South India examines the secular sculpture and architecture in the capital city of Vijayanagara in terms of understanding the dynamics of royal power. The rationale for such a comprehensive study grew out of my doctoral work that I undertook at the University of California Los Angeles, work that I continued to develop and refine as a result of numerous conversations with colleagues in the field.

My analytical study of royal portraiture, ceremony, and urban forms in the light of political authority, market exchange and sacred space brings a new perspective to our understandings of the nature, role and institution of kingship as a semi-structured cohesive system of power. My arguments about the workings of an integral system of power are substantiated in compelling imagery and monumental architecture. Rarely have books on South Asian art perceived the cultural remains from the perspective of networks of authority or viewed art as a visual form of power.

The assistance of many people has enabled me to undertake this extensive investigation. My study of royal imagery at Vijayanagara was inspired and aided by a number of people at UCLA. My interest in royal artistic imagery was at first aroused by Prof. Susan Downey. She has offered continuous insightful suggestions while Prof. Damodar Sardesai has been particularly helpful with providing historical references. Other professors whom I would like to thank are Prof. Stanley Wolpert and Prof. Irene Bierman. Finally, I would like to thank my advisor, Robert L. Brown, who has continually inspired and guided me. I am most grateful for the consistent moral support and deep insig.t in Indian studies that he offered.


Royal Imagery and Networks of Power at Vijayanagara: A study of Kingship in South India is devoted to the problem of the nature and role of Vijayanagara kingship, based on an examination and interpretation of royal artistic imagery in the city of Vijayanagara or modern Hampi. The fortified city of Vijayanagara was the capital of the kingdom of Vijayanagara which ruled South India from 1336 to 1565 A.D. The present city is a vision of conglomerations of built forms: magnificent temples, palaces, shrines, gateways, walls, platforms and bazaars. The grandeur of its structural and its vast urban setting are a testimony to the accounts of Domingo Paes, who wrote that it was "as large as Rome, and very beautiful to the sight...the best provided city in the world..."

However, when the city was ransacked by the collective forces of the Moslems in c. 1565 A.D., the empire also came to an end. The violent sack of the city has left its indelible mark on the architectural remains of the city: treasure hunters and forces of nature have caused widespread destruction, altering the original urban environment of this glorious capital. But the "ruins" still contain a vast number of religious and secular structures in the form of lofty temples, large palace complexes, bazaars, walls, gateways, towers, tanks, aqueducts, streets and platforms which reflect the power and prestige of its rulers. Some of these structures are articulated with sculptures and reliefs, which can help us to understand the role of art in expressing and defining the concept of Vijayanagara kingship, especially the nature of authority and interrelation between the king, trader and priesthood.

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