Universität Bonn

Abteilung für Asiatische und Islamische Kunstgeschichte

13. Februar 2023

Lecture and Workshop by Prof. Dr. Julia A. B. Hegewald Mimicry, Appeasement or Expression of Power: Reasons for a Jaina Hybrid Style

Islamic Aesthetics for Jaina Temples in Crisis: Dependency, Destruction and Creative Adaptation for Survival

Lecture Abstract:

The arrival of Islam in the Indian subcontinent drastically changed the political, religious and cultural landscape. While historic accounts and inscriptions portray a situation of crisis for indigenous religious groups and destroyed statues and temples are still visible today, the available architecture also displays a surprisingly creative response to this threat. Despite at times violent persecutions of the Jainas, the stylistic influence Islamic art has had on Jaina religious buildings is startling. Jaina Temples, especially those of the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, frequently have Islamic decorations and arches, tiles, bulbous domes, minar-like towers and niches resembling mihrabs. Islamic stylistic features did, however, not only remain on the surface but also influence the underlying planning layout of Jaina architecture. Jaina temples were constructed following the principles of courtyard mosques as well as Islamic tombs. This presentation draws attention to this fascinating phenomenon and considers a series of possible reasons for this hybrid style.

Workshop Abstract:

Following the lecture on Tuesday, we will together aim at finding explanations for the striking approach, which builders of Jaina temples took during the period starting from the fifteenth century onwards, which strongly expressed Islamic design principles and regularly followed Muslim planning rules. We will debate whether it was the concept of mimicry, of pretending to be Islamic in order to shield off attacks, which drove Jaina builders to construct temples in the style of a community which severely threatened their hegemony. It is questionable, however, if such buildings could ever have been mistaken for true Islamic structures. Was the aim perhaps more simply to please or at least not to offend the new Islamic rulers of an area by avoiding figural representations and instead building in a style understood and favoured by Muslims in order to prevent raids and destruction? The period of the fifteenth and later centuries, however, is not usually marked by such violent persecution any longer and this might indicate that Islamic design features had become widely accepted and part of a new artistic repertoire. Despite this general acceptation of Islamic approaches in art and architecture, the Jainas appear to have been especially open towards adopting Islamic ideas in their temple constructions. We will examine these and other possible explanations and it is likely that it was not simply a single but in most cases a series of reasons which might have led to the creation of this intriguing hybrid style of architecture.


Julia A. B. Hegewald is Professor of Asian Art History and Head of the Department of Asian and Islamic Art History at the Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies, the University of Bonn. She was Reader in Art History at the University of Manchester (2007–2010), a postdoctoral Fellow at the South Asia Institute, Heidelberg University (2005–2007) and a Research Fellow at University College Oxford (1998–2005). She studied at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), the University of London, from where she also holds a Ph.D. Her books include: Water Architecture in South Asia: A Study of Types, Developments and Meanings (2002), Jaina Temple Architecture in India: The Development of a Distinct Language in Space and Ritual (2009, 2018), The Jaina Heritage: Distinction, Decline and Resilience (2010), In the Shadow of the Goldgen Age: Art and Identity from Gandhara to the Modern Age (2014), Jaina Painting and Manuscript Culture: In Memory of Paolo Pianarosa (2015), In the Footsteps of the Masters: Footprints, Feet and Shoes as Objects of Veneration in Asian, Islamic and Mediterranean Art (2020), Jaina Tradition of the Deccan: Shravanabelagola, Mudabidri, Karkala (2021) and together with S. K. Mitra, Re-use: The Art and Politics of Anxiety and Integration (2012). For more information see: http://www.jab-hegewald.de/

Sponsors: Both events are free and open to the public. They are possible thanks to the generous financial support of the Anonymous Fund. The Center for Visual Cultures would also like to thank the department of Art History, the Center for Culture, History, and Environment, the Institute for Research in the Humanities, and the Center for South Asia.

“Islamic Aesthetics for Jaina Temples in Crisis: Dependency, Destruction and Creative Adaptation for Survival”

Tuesday, February 14, 2023
12:00 PM CDT

“Mimicry, Appeasement or Expression of Power: Reasons for a Jaina Hybrid Style”

Workshop :
Thursday, February 16, 2023
12:00 PM CST

*To attend the workshop
please RSVP to cvc@mailplus.wisc.edu
All are welcome!

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