Published Jul 15 2013, by

Pair of Architectural Panels

South India has a vibrant sculptural tradition that includes the use of ornate architectural decoration in both secular and religious contexts. The temples of the region are particularly heavily embellished with walls, columns, arches, and buttresses intricately carved out of stone and wood.

This pair of panels exemplifies the detailed craftsmanship of the South Indian woodworking tradition. The striking vertical form of the panels is derived from temple architecture, elements of which were often applied to the adornment of temple carts, miniature models of temples that would be paraded through the streets during special celebrations and festivals. Each decorative panel is made of deeply carved sandalwood to show an ascending series of mounted warriors in raised relief.

The spaces between each figure are populated with a host of figural imagery, including attendants with parasols, animals, and mythological creatures. The edges of this dense composition are demarcated by linear borders with stylized decoration that effectively create several registers in keeping with the scale of the ascending warriors. The gentle curve of the outer edge, and the striking silhouettes it creates, provided a graceful accent to the doorways and balconies commonly found in the religious architecture of South India.