SOAS - 10th Jaina Studies Workshop [16] Demarcating Sacred Space: The Jina Images at Kalugumalai

Published: 12.04.2008
Updated: 29.11.2012

Friday, 7th March 2008
Brunei Gallery Lecture Theater

Jaina Art & Architecture
10th Jaina Studies Workshop at SOAS

Lecture: "Demarcating Sacred Space: The Jina Images at Kalugumalai", Dr. Lisa Nadine Owen, Assistant Professor of Art History, School of Visual Arts, University of North Texas

Dr. Lisa Nadine Owen
Assistant Professor of Art History, School of Visual Arts. University of North Texas

Demarcating Sacred Space: The Jina Images atKalugumalai


In the southern districts of Tamil Nadu, there are a number of medieval Jain sites that feature large boulders or outcrops of stone that are carved with Jina images. One such site is located in the village of Kalugumalai, near Kovilpatti. Carved across the surface of a large rock formation that dominates the landscape are a series of small seated Jinas who are not identifiable through either attendant figures or distinctive emblems. In­cluded among these carvings are images of Gommaṭa/Bāhubali and the Jain goddesses Ambikā and Padmāvatī. Although the reliefs at Kalu­gumalai are independent carvings and are often accompanied by indi­vidual donative inscriptions, they do, nonetheless, impart a relatively uniform program. In this paper, I will explore how Kalugumalai's relief carvings demarcate sacred space in similar ways as that expressed in rock-cut temples of the same time period. Though one cannot physical­ly enter a space at Kalugumalai, the types and arrangement of images on the surface of the rock suggest connections with imagery carved in cave interiors. With this line of inquiry, I will also examine the nature of devotional activities at Kalugumalai and whether or not the relief carvings could have functioned in similar ways as enshrined rock-cut images.

10 minutes on video:

Full SpeechAudio:

Dr. Lisa Nadine Owen

Newsletter of the Centre of Jaina Studies (SOAS) Vol. 3 2008

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