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AIA Talk: Reconstructing the Story of an Ancient Hindu Temple 25 January 7:30 pm

Dr. Cathleen Cummings, University of Alabama at Birmingham

11:10 AM, Wilson Hall 168 (Art History Lecture Hall)
"The Hindu Gods and Their Temples"

7:30 PM, Wilson Hall Theatre
"Monument as Text: Reconstructing the Story of an Ancient Hindu Temple"

Cathleen Cummings received her doctorate from The Ohio State University, specializing in the art of South Asia, with minors in Islamic and Himalayan Buddhist art. Her book, Decoding A Hindu Temple: Royalty and Religion in the Iconographic Program of the Virupaksha Temple, Pattadakal, was published in 2014. She has also published on Buddhist paintings of Tibet and Nepal, early modern painting in India, and Hindu architecture associated with death and cremation.

In her day talk Dr. Cummings will address essential elements of Hinduism. “There is only one God, but endless are his aspects and endless are his names.” What is Hinduism? Who are the primary deities of Hinduism? Where are they worshipped? How do devotees interact with the divine? Her discussion will introduce the most widely worshiped deities in the Hindu pantheon and explore the development of Hindu temples and the nature of worship.

For Dr. Cummings evening talk we will dig more deeply into a single case study. The temples of the Early Chalukya dynasty (ca. 544-757), whose domains extended through the modern Indian states of Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Andhra Pradesh, represent the earliest and largest group of freestanding stone structures in South India. The largest and most important of their temples is the Virupaksha Temple, erected in approximately 733 at the dynasty’s royal consecration site. In this talk she will introduce the Virupaksha Temple, exploring the temple sculpture’s iconographic program as an expression of Hindu kingship. She will also consider the kinds of evidence archaeologists and art historians use to try to make sense of monuments such as this, given the dearth of textual evidence or histories.