Posted on: 10 April 2015

New Book:
Art of the Imperial Cholas
By Vidya Dehejia
Published by Columbia University Press - 2013

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Book Review:
This book is adapted from a series of lectures given by the author at the Asia Society in 1987. The author attempts to give us an integrated view of Chola art, including descriptions of the major personalities involved. The book is arranged chronologically: Early, Middle and Late Chola periods.

The book is not meant to be a work of reference, but rather an introduction to Chola art. The author succeeds admirably in this task. What is interesting about the book is that it also gives the reader a sense of the world of the Cholas. Who commissioned the art? Why did they do so? What were they trying to say with the art? The descriptions of the Chola Queen Sembiyan Mahadevi stand out in this regard. The author also relates the art to the poetry of the times since much of the art is intimately connected to Saivite literature and poetry.

The book is printed on excellent quality glossy paper, and the photographs are of high quality.

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Vidya Dehejia Barbara Stoler Miller Professor of Indian and South Asian Art South Asian Art Ph.D., Cambridge University, 1967 Biography: In the course of her career, Vidya Dehejia has combined research with teaching and exhibition-related activities around the world. Extensive field travel in South Asia, with visits to sites of importance in Southeast Asia, has given her first hand familiarity with the art of the region. Her background in classical Sanskrit and Tamil, and knowledge of a range of modern Indian languages has proved invaluable. Her writings have incorporated translations of ancient poetry, and material from unpublished manuscripts, in order to illuminate an artistic milieu. She has explored at length the theoretical basis for the portrayal of visual narratives in the context of India's sculpture and painting, and has examined issues of gender and colonialism. Over time, her work has ranged from Buddhist art of the centuries BC to the esoteric temples of North India, and from the sacred bronzes of the South to the art of British India. Management and curatorial experience at the Smithsonian's Freer and Sackler Galleries provided broader scope to convey the excitement of her field to non-specialist audiences.