Abhidha Journal


Journal of Art, Archaeology and Cultural Heritage

A Publication of Pragjyotish Centre for Cultural Research (PCCR)

ISSN: 2583-4851


Journal of Art, Archaeology and Cultural Heritage

ISSN: 2583-4851

Volume-1, No-1 (2021)

Dr. Manjil Hazarika
Pages: vii – viii

Research Article

Kanchani Prova Koch
Pages: 1 – 14

The Khasis are a tribe and native of Meghalaya, a north-eastern state of India. Their origin can be traced to Southeast Asia. They belong to the Mon-Khmer linguistic family. The society of this tribe is matrilineal which considers its descendants from the mother known as Ka Iawbei Tynrai. Christianity has influenced a majority of Khasis in the state. However, a few people continue to follow their traditional beliefs and practice traditional rituals and rites till today. The religion of the Khasis believes in one supreme God in addition to having faith in spirits for both good and bad on certain occasions. In the spiritual beliefs of the Khasis, one of the significant spirits is ancestral spirit and ancestral worship is one of the essential features of the traditional life of Khasis. By showing love towards ancestral spirits and believing in supernatural powers, the Khasis try to appease the deceased ancestors by offering food and sacrifice. The ancestral worship of this ethnic group is associated with megalithic structures. The presence of a large numbers of megalithic structures in Meghalaya indicates that these structures have socio-economic and socio-religious significance for the Khasis, and that is why a number of rituals associated with these are practiced till today. Consequently, the megalithic culture of Khasis can be considered as living tradition. Sacrificing of animals is one of the important aspects of ancestral worship by Khasis and the same has been dealt in detail in this paper.

Keywords: Khasis, Megalithic Culture, Ancestral Worship, Ritual, Animal Sacrifice

Koch, Prova, Kanchani. “Animal Sacrifices in Ancestral Worship by Khasis of Meghalaya: An Ethnographic Perspective”.  Abhidha Journal of Art, Archaeology and Cultural Heritage, vol. 1, no. 1, 2021, pp.1-14.

In tracing the early history of Assam, archaeological sources are of great significance. While references to the ancient city of Pragjyotishpura are found in literary records like the Ramayana, and Mahabharata, it is primarily the copper plate grants that throw light on the different historical phases. The rule of different dynasties like the Varmans, the Salastambhas and the Palas not only witnessed changes in the domain of polity, society and economy but also the patronage to religious establishments. In this context, the material culture found in the form of temple ruins, sculptures, pottery demonstrate attempts on the part of the ruling class to patronise the Brahmanas. Moreover, the rich evidence of archaeological remains reflects the existence of artisans as a distinct social group and also the prevalent religious beliefs. The Ambari archaeological site, located in the heart of the Guwahati city in the course of the excavations has yielded a great number of sculptures, among which those of Vishnu, Surya and Mahishamardini Durga predominate. An attempt has been made in this paper to discuss the Sakti icons from the Ambari archaeological site, analysing their style that correspond to two different periods and the religious significance.

Keywords: Ambari, Pragjyotishpura, Sculpture, Sakti, Vishnu

Phukan, Rashmita. “Shakti Icons of Ambari: An Analysis of their Style and Religious Significance”. Abhidha Journal of Art, Archaeology and Cultural Heritage, vol. 1, no. 1, 2021, pp. 15 – 23.

The Kapili-Jamuna valley of Assam, situated in the modern districts of Nagaon, Marigaon and Hojai in Central Assam is rich in archaeological remains, especially, temple ruins and sculptures and has been a major seat of cultural development, attracting human habitations since distant past. Historically, the valley first finds mention in Allahabad Pillar inscription of Samudragupta datable to 4th century CE. This inscription refers to the Kingdom of Devaka (identified with the Doboka region of present Hojai district) along with the eastern frontier kingdoms, such as Kamarupa whose rulers paid allegiance to the reigning Gupta monarch. That the area served as an important political centre as well as a thriving cultural zone under the historical dynasties of early Assam, namely the Varmanas, the Salasthambas and the Palas may be proved by the rich remains found spreading throughout the valley. Almost all the major archaeological sites of the valley such as, Jogijan, Mikirati, Doboka, Sankhyadevi, Shivpur, Rajabari, Mahadeo-sal, Vasundhari, Kawai-Mari, Amtala, and Gach-Tal are located in close proximity to the rivers, the rivers facilitating the spread of different artistic traditions. Considering the historical and archaeological significance of the valley, a detailed documentation and an in-depth study of the remains is an utmost necessity which would evidently throw light into various aspects of the socio-economic as well cultural history of the region. The paper is an attempt in this direction.

Keywords: Sculpture, Temple Remain, Art, Culture, History

Saikia, Mrigakhee. “Archaeological Remains of the Kapili – Jamuna Valley of Assam”. Abhidha Journal of Art, Archaeology and Cultural Heritage, vol. 1, no. 1, 2021, pp. 24 – 45.

The term subjectivity does appear with a meaning which is something slightly different from the term identity, although the two terms have sometimes been used interchangeably. But subjectivity as a critical concept invites us to consider the question of how and from where identity arises, to what extent it is understandable, and to what degree. It is something over which we have any measure of influence or control. Kalam Patua’s unique ability to transform the routine everyday of the middle-class life into metaphors derived from Indian mythology makes his work both complex and nuanced. In the post-independence period gradually all other centers of patachitra practice except that of Medinipur have faded away, as patuas in those areas have shifted from their tradition in search forbetter life. While the success of Kalam Patua is of individualist nature, the success of Medinipur patuas is in contrast bearing a collective nature. Many researcher/writers have inappropriately associated Kalam Patua as ‘the last from the Kalighat’, whereas the present paper is an attempt to understand a new becoming of an artist. While the Kalighat artists broke away from the pre-modern traditions of Patua repertoire with a modernist approach incorporating influences of the Bazar lithographs, western water colours and targeted the village audience for their patronage. In contrast Kalam Patua’s paintings attend to the global audience/patronage. His repertoire is a complex synthesis of the traditional Kalighat, Birbhum/ Murshidabad idiom of patachitra, miniature paintings as well as works of Jamini Roy and the world of modern art.

Keywords: Kalam Patua, Patua, Patachitra, pata, Kalighat, folk art, contemporary art, subjectivity

Adhikari, Amitava. “Kalam Patua: Becoming of a New Subjectivity from Changing Paradigms of the ‘folk’ “. Abhidha Journal of Art, Archaeology and Cultural Heritage, vol. 1, no. 1, 2021, pp. 46 – 69. 

Snehal Tambulwadikar-Khedkar
Pages: 70 – 77

The Siva temple at Anwa is an extremely interesting temple site from 12th century CE in proximity to Ajanta and Ellora Cave structures, which puts it on the Dakshinapatha revived in the medieval period. The temple shows very interesting architecture style that seems to be in the transition period from Nagara to the more elaborate Bhumija. Although much small in scale, it has the outer mandapa that reminds of lineage to Gujarat Modhera Sun temple of Solankis and even closer to the Kopeshwar Siva Temple at Khidrapur near Kolhapur. The focus in this article though is more towards the unique Vaishnavis, or the prakritis of Vishnu. The depiction of Saptamatrikas or seven mother goddesses is quite common the western and southern part of India seen abundantly from 9th century CE onwards, although a number of Saptamatrka images of pre-Gupta and Gupta period, from 4th-6th century CE have also been found in Western India. Women depictions of Durga as Mahisasuramardini, Mahalakshami, Gajalakshami, river goddesses, Gayatri, Parvati and Lakshami (wives of Brahma, Siva and Visnu) has been seen on many temples. Very creative depiction of Kali, Shalabhanjika (fertility goddess) and yakshis and surasundaris have been seen on temples too. But a temple dedicated to depiction of only Vaishanvis is quite unique! In this preliminary observational article, attempt is to analyse the inspiration of this unique iconography and appreciate the exquisite quality of sculpture achieved by the artists.

Keywords: Anwa, Siva Temple, Vaishnavi, Astamatrika, Matrika, Bhumija, Yogini

Tambulwadikar-Khedkar, Snehal. “Anwa: A Unique Vaishnavi”. Abhidha Journal of Art, Archaeology and Cultural Heritage, vol. 1, no. 1, 2021, pp. 70 – 77.

In the twentieth century, forest and hill-dwelling communities throughout South and Southeast Asia have been involved in the creation of unique orthographic scripts to represent their languages. While many outsiders have seen this as the result of literacy initiatives and the rise of identity politics in the postcolonial nation-state, the narratives surrounding these scripts within communities ranging from the Santal (India) to the Hmong (Southeast Asia) talk about these scripts as having been “recovered” from the hoary past. These recovery narratives of the recently developed orthographies contradict the developmental view of literacy, in which reading and writing are seen as markers of progress, instantiating a view of time that saturates the present with a lost past recovered from the dustbin of history. The paper draws on Mikhail Bakhtin’s idea of ‘chronotope’ and Walter Benjamin’s discussion of the “angel of history” who looks askance to the past as it moves forward, to suggest that scripts arise in a political moment of suturing. This process occurs when communities seek to assert alternative historical visions following the violence of dislocation, migration, and upheaval brought about by state-formation in the Asian post-colonies.

Keywords: Literacy, Script, Autonomy, Displacement, Chronotope, Messianism

Choksi, Nishaant. “Look askance: loss and recovery of writing in South and Southeast Asia”. Abhidha Journal of Art, Archaeology and Cultural Heritage, vol. 1, no. 1, 2021, pp. 78 – 91.

Namrata Sarmah
Pages: 92 – 102

The concept of curated walks in museums or heritage sites refers to an activity where visitors traverse the physical space occupied by the object(s) of interest, while being mediated by a guide or a curator. These walks allude to a three-way dialogue between the audience, the mediator and the object. This paper will investigate how curated walks and the dialogues they engender function in museum spaces, and what it entails for production, comprehension and consumption of knowledge about artefacts and heritage among visitors and curators alike. The crux of the exercise is to comprehend how visitors and curators understand and experience museums through curated walks, and how the meanings generated from this interaction are distinct from conventional modes of interactions occurring in museum spaces. The ways in which people derive meanings out of their interactions with their surroundings is immensely diverse, depending upon age, worldview, and socio-political and economic backgrounds. By focusing on the issues of spatial mobility in three case studies from New Delhi, this paper argues that museums need a gradual paradigm shift from directing people towards objects to allowing people to interact with objects in a free manner. The possibilities of engaging with spaces, or with objects, in their own terms would create a rich repository of human experiences for the audience within and without museums. Allowing a free-flowing network of conversations, dialogues and articulations would create a dynamic, inclusive and democratised curator-audience experience.

Keywords: Curatorship, Representation, Museum space, Visitors, Conceptualisation

Sarmah, Namrata. “Enhancing Museum Experiences: Curated Walks”. Abhidha Journal of Art, Archaeology and Cultural Heritage, vol. 1, no. 1, 2021, pp. 92 – 102.

The Pauranic sources like the Harivamsa, Vishnu Purana, Bhagavat Purana, and the Kalika Purana (Shastri 1993) referred to the legends of Naraka-Bhagadatta as the progenitor of the Aryans of this part of India. The Kailka Purana depicts the story of Narakasur. The text shows that Naraka was born of mother earth (bhumi) through Vishnu in his Boar incarnation. As born of earth (bhumi), Naraka came to known as Bhauma and it has observed that subsequently all ruling families of Pragjyotisha- Kamarupa claimed their descent from Naraka- Bhagadatta. The study of the early settlement pattern in Assam indicates that the majority of people belong to the Indo-Mongolian group of people along with Proto- Mongolian, Tibeto-Burmese, Proto-Austroloid, and Alpine group of people before the advent of Naraka-Bhagadatta. Recently, scholars have started a debate on the antiquity, origin, and continuity of Aryan way of life and mode of cultivation in the Northeastern India. Boruah (2007: 30) is of the opinion that the advent of Naraka makes a tentative demarcating line for the advent of Aryan culture in this land. It seems that Alpines were responsible for the spread of Aryan culture prior to the coming of Narkasur. Our extant sources, which are mainly the epigraphs, show that it was the Brahmanical class with their own social norms and behaviour had initiated the process of social change through a process of acculturation and assimilation amongst the local people.

Keywords: Epigraph, Inscription, Brahmanism, Early Assam, Social Change and Land

Mazumdar, Manash. “Epigraphs, Brahmanas and Settlements: A Note on the Settlements and Social Formation of Pragjyotisha-Kamarupa on Epigraphical Perspective”. Abhidha Journal of Art, Archaeology and Cultural Heritage, vol. 1, no. 1, 2021, pp. 103 – 123.

Abhilash Sharma Boruah
Pages: 124 – 140

Biswanath is identified as a part of the ‘Soumarpeetha’ of ancient Kamarupa kingdom. Present Biswanth area is a former part of Sonitpur district, well known for Da-Parbatia, Agnigarh, Bamuni Hills, Nagsankar temple. Biswanath is a centre of cultural development in Assam from the early times. The Bamgoan ruins dating back to c 800-900 CE provide evidence of brick fragments depicting birds, floral designs, human and animal figures, bricks used as corner pieces and other terracotta art objects to understand the cultural development of the area. Biswanath is very much important from historical point of view. The temple ruins and findings of the area itself describe the importance of the area. The history of Biswanath and its nearby area is well known after the expansion of Ahom kingdom to central Assam. In this paper an attempt is made to describe the iconographic features of the sculptures which are found in the area.

Keywords : Biswanath, Ratha, Mukhalinga, Pancamukha Shiva, Pancha-dhyan-Buddha

Baruah, Sharma, Abhilash. “Sculptures of Biswanth Area in Assam”. Abhidha Journal of Art, Archaeology and Cultural Heritage, vol. 1, no. 1, 2021, pp. 124 – 140. 

Girish Nandkishor Naphade
Pages: 141 – 159

The Markanda temple remains as one of the controversial site for historians while dating temple art. Historically it is a significant but comparatively neglected group of monuments from Vidarbha which is situated at Chamorshi taluka, Gadchiroli district in Maharashtra. The Archaeological Survey of India protects the site accommodating eighteen temples out of twenty-four. The total area of the Markanda temple complex is 196 × 168 sq feet. Local people call the place as Markandi or Markanda Deva, and assign the major temple in the group to Markanda Rishi or Markandesvara, which was damaged by striking of lightening 300 years back. Therefore, it is difficult to trace the original form of Markandesvara temple. The architecture and sculptures of these firmly resemble the Khajuraho temples. It is famous for its “Hemandpanthi” style of construction. This research paper attempts readings of all the available inscriptions and a newly found inscription at Markanda that has never been discussed by scholars. Here we are trying find out some possibilities and additions that will give a particular perspective to the present study by concluding the date of Markandesvara temple.

Keywords: Markandeshvara Temple Gadchiroli, Dashavtara Temple, Markanda Temples, Inscriptions from Markanda, Khajuraho of Vidarbha, Hemadpanthi Temple, Yadava Temple, Art and Architecture of Markanda

Nandkishor Naphade, Girish. “Decoding Mystery of Markandesvara Temple through Inscriptions”. Abhidha Journal of Art, Archaeology and Cultural Heritage, vol. 1, no. 1, 2021, pp. 141 – 159.

Shreya Sarmah
Pages: 163 – 165

Archaeology in Northeast India - Essays Celebrating 150 Years Of Research – Recent Trends And Future Prospects

Jougathi Basumatary
Pages: 166 – 169

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