Социальные сети

The canons of iconometry follow a complex system called talamana (Gopinatha Rao 1920), in which the basic units are called angula and tala and the latter stands for the length of the palm. The angula is either a fixed length (manangulam) or a proportion (dehalabdhangulam). A piece of sculpture may be made according to one of the ten main divisions of proportions. Each main division can be further subdivided into three other types. A basic type is the madyma navatala (or the standard nine face-length).

The face is of length one tala, (or twelve angulas) the length from throat to navel is two tala, from navel to top of knee is three tala, from the lower knee to ankle is two tala making a total of eight tala. One tala is distributed equally between the heights of foot, knee, the neck and topknot. The nava tala thus has a total of nine tala units, in height (108 angulas). There are two other types in the nava tala division. The uttama nava tala type is four angulas taller and the adhama nava tala type is four angulas shorter. The four angulas are distributed evenly between the heights of the foot, the kneecap, the neck and the topknot. The angula unit (dehalabdhangulam) that we discuss here is a proportional unit, and figures of different sizes can be made following the same proportion. The system makes use of the fact that persons with disproportionately larger face length appear shorter and persons with disproportionately shorter face appear taller. Dwarf figures are made following a chatusra tala or a four tala system where the total height is four times the face length. Canons of iconometry describe ten divisions from the eka tala (or single tala) to dasa tala (or the ten tala).

On close scrutiny we find that the surviving texts do not follow this system uniformly. A second system must have got superimposed on this ancient canonical system and both the systems are found in the texts. We shall illustrate with some examples of the possible origins of this dual system of proportions in the texts. In Indian art the important figures in a group are often represented as taller figures and inferior beings are represented as smaller figures. To such smaller figures a lower tala is often prescribed. However, if both the larger and the smaller figures were to represent deities of equal rank (say Siva and Vishnu) then strictly speaking they should be made in the same proportion, or in other words in the same tala. To the sculptor then it would involve using different lengths to represent the angulaa larger size for the angula of the taller figures and a smaller size for the angula measure of the smaller figure and both figures may occur in the same sculptural panel. To overcome this difficulty sculptors would have recalculated the size of face, limbs etc., maintaining the same proportion for figures of different heights. Taking the larger figure as standard and assuming that it is in standard nava tala it would have a height of 108 angulas. Other figures could be made in different sizes but in the same proportion. A shorter figure could be made in the same proportion but with a height of only 96 units where the unit may be equal to the angula of a standard nava tala figure. A much larger figure also made in the same proportion could be of height 120 angulas of the standard figure. Twelve angulas (10x12) make ten talas or dasa tala. This larger figure may be reckoned to be made according to the second system in dasa tala even though its proportions would be close to the standard nava tala figures. Then its face would not be 12 angulas but more. These examples illustrate the possible origin of the second system. This second system has also got mingled in the texts with the first system. When the proportions of a figure are given in dasa tala one has to check carefully whether it belongs to the first system or the second system. If it belongs to the first system, its face length would be 12 angulas irrespective of its total height. The existence of the two systems in the texts has not been fully realised so far by scholars. We shall call the first system the pure tala mana system and the second system the derived tala mana system.

The different texts give the iconometric measurement often using both the systems. The measurements relate to height, width and sometimes the circumference of the different parts of the figure. Even though there is a lot of variety in measurements between the different texts, we claim that there are certain common general features. First the face length is equally divided between the fore-head, nose and nose-to-chin irrespective of the system. Secondly the pubis (base of the male organ) is the midpoint of the height of a nude figure. In other words the distance from the sole of the feet to the pubis is equal to the distance from the pubis to the topknot. Thirdly deities are prescribed a higher tala compared to human figures. One may interpret it as belonging to the pure talamana system or the derived system depending upon the text as well as the theme. Fourthly children will be represented in a lower tala like the chatusra tala (four tala) of the pure system. The face length will be comparatively large for children. There are a few exceptions to the general features that we have described but we are not sure of the authenticity of such texts.

An iconometric study of Pallava sculptures
Kalakshetra Quarterly, Vol. 3 No. 2, 1980, pp. 7-15
Gift Siromoney, M. Bagavandas and S.Govindaraju
 

 





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