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Kāman, Kāmyaka & Kāmyakeśvara: Material Religion in Early Medieval Rajasthan (8th-10th century CE)

Thursday 2 June 2016
Lecture series Society of Friends of the Kern Institute (VVIK)
Matthias de Vrieshof
Matthias de Vrieshof 3
2311 BZ Leiden
104 (Verbarium)

Kāman, Kāmyaka & Kāmyakeśvara

Located 130 kilometers south of Delhi, the small village of Kāman preserves a rich, yet understudied, material archive for the study of religious life in early medieval India. Visiting Kāman today one feels out on the margins of a rapidly modernizing nation, but the town’s significant artistic legacy—evident in the remains of monumental architecture, stone inscriptions, and finely crafted sculpture—suggests that this was not always the case. Medieval Kāman (then known as Kāmyaka) was a boomtown, a vital center of commerce and exchange populated by merchant collectives, artisans, religious specialists, and others who gave liberally to religious institutions. The temple to Śiva as Kāmyakeśvara, the tutelary deity of the eponymous town, was the primary recipient of the residents’ pious gifts. In addition to marking a clear geographic center within the settled area, my research presents the Kāmyakeśvara temple as an ideological center that succeeded in catalyzing remarkable social synergies between individuals and collectives from a wide variety of social strata. This presentation offers a synthesis of new evidence gathered during recent fieldwork to shed a valuable light on Kāman’s artistic legacy and, in doing so, explores broader questions concerning the use of material culture to constitute religious community.

The lecture will be followed by drinks in the common room of Matthias de Vrieshof 3, 17:30 - 18:30 hours.

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