Course of
Field Study of Cultures

Associate Professor YAGUCHI Naomichi (Field Study of Cultures)

[Theme] Studying the History of Indian Architecture

The field of architectural history that I specialize in is divided by region into Japan, the West, and the East. Each of these categories can be further divided into architectural categories such as housing, religions architecture, and cities. Once the time period is also factored in, one can determine the area or region of architecture I am specializing in. If I were to assign myself one of these categories, I would choose history of Eastern architecture history, specializing in the study of Indian religious structures from ancient times to the Middle Ages.

I specialize in investigating the following two types of architecture. One is the medieval Hindu temples of south India. I primarily study the temple architecture of the Hoysalas who ruled south India from the 12th century to the 14th century, which are to the south of the Cauvery River. I also study the changes in temple ornamentation and internal layout that occurred during the Hoysala rule. The most important aspects to consider when identifying the characteristics of the Hoysala temples are the intricate decorations and wall plans, the design of the pillars, and the arrangement of level surfaces. If we examine the temples on basis of symmetry, then the relationship between the symmetric axis and the location of the central hall of worship, the other rooms, and the other architectural elements become apparent. If we consider the location of the central hall of worship and gods enshrined there, we can find placements unique to certain eras that can be used for further inquiries into the religious circumstances of the time. Although my subject of research deals mainly with Hoysala temple architecture, it also encompasses the temple structures of the preceding Chalukya and Chola dynasties.

The other I specialized in is the ancient Buddhist Architecture. Of those Buddhist architecture that actually exist as spaces, I focus primarily on those found in the Deccan in west India and on the cave temples in south India. While paintings and carvings depicting Buddhist legends and books of sutras have been used to reconstruct the temple spaces, and the ruins of some of the priests' quarters have been found, the stone caverns present an almost perfectly preserved appearance down to the marks of the ancient chisels, as if they have been preserved in a time capsule. However, the caves generally have a special architectural format that only depicts the outer façade and inner space of the Buddhist monastries and palaces of the time. In other words, there are architecturally inconsistent members placed in areas where construction could not be carried on as planned because they were digging into the bedrock. Still, the placement of members in this manner can also be examined from the angle of developing them into decorative elements within the structure of the caves. The caverns are also cut into the bedrock to carve out walls, ceilings, and floors. This indicates that holes that were dug too deep, and the bricks used to try and fill them are left behind in the ruins. We can also carefully analyze the ruins to identify occasional changes of plan in which walls serve as pillars or additional rooms are excavated.

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