Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Unusual Artifacts: The Mysore Model, 1923

The Victoria & Albert Museum

This strange architectural model depicts a medieval Hindu temple. It has been carved in sandalwood upon a polished teak-wood base. The model is a composite of styles, but is clearly, loosely based on details of Hoysala dynasty temples at Halebid, Somnathpur and Belur.

The model is adorned with figures of various Hindu gods nestled within niches, amidst scrolling foliate stems, lotus and lotus flowers. From above, we see that the plan of the temple is a twelve pointed star where each point rests upon the back of an elephant. This is not a replica of a particular building, but rather an amalgam of details from several important temples.

This ingenious work of art was first seen publically at the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley in 1924. It was loaned to the Exhibition by King George V and Queen Mary to whom it was given by the Maharaja of Mysore in 1923. 

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