a statue, a temple and an elephant
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Cultural Dynasties: The Art and Architecture of South Asia’s Glorious Medieval Kingdoms
Curious Minds Speaker Series
Tuesday, Jun 6, 2023 1:00 PM
Dr. Sudharshan Durayappah leads a journey through the fascinating art and architecture that flourished in the kingdoms of South Asia during the Middle Ages.
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Reserved Seating Ticket - $13.27

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Tuesdays, May 23 - June 27, 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM 

Pro-rated registration for the remainder of the course is available at the box office. Tickets for each individual class go on sale the week prior.

Masking is strongly recommended. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to boxoffice@hotdocs.ca.

In this exciting new series from Curious Minds favourite Professor Sudharshan Durayappah, take a journey through the fascinating art and architecture that flourished in the kingdoms of South Asia during the Middle Ages. Exploring fascinating regions, kingdoms and epochs that were not covered in his previous, highly popular courses on South Asian art and design (The Treasures of South Asia, The Treasures of the Ancient Silk Routes), this new series will explore how the interactions and rivalries between three dynasties in modern day India and Sri Lanka produced a vibrant cosmopolitan culture and some of the most opulent art and architecture the world has ever seen.

Led by Professor Sudharshan Durayappah, who teaches in the Department of Historical and Cultural Studies at the University of Toronto. A leading scholar of art history, religion and culture, he has also served as a lecturer at the Aga Khan Museum and a history teacher at the Royal Ontario Museum.

Promotional Partner: Mosaic International South Asian Film Festival

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May 23: The Chola Dynasty

In our series opener, Sudharshan introduces us to the Chola Dynasty of Southern India, where the coexistence of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism gave rise to rich, overlapping traditions of religious art in the Medieval Era. We’ll turn our gaze to the famous temple at Thanjavur, a landmark of the region’s Dravida architecture, with its ornate towers and detailing, before surveying the kingdom’s opulent royal commissions, including rare bronzes and stunning murals.

May 30: The Lives of the Dynasty’s Celebrated Artists

In the feudal society of the Chola Dynasty, temple dancers and musicians were a privileged class, granted land and housing and other hereditary privileges. In this lecture, we’ll explore the lives of the female dancers who performed in the kingdom’s temples and royal courts and explore the architecture of a South Indian courtyard house belonging to a group of dance artists.

June 6: The Polonnaruwa Kingdom: A UNESCO Heritage Site

Located in north-central Sri Lanka, the kingdom of Polonnaruwa was a vibrant cultural hotbed in the Medieval Period. For two centuries, its artists and artisans absorbed both Buddhist and Hindu influences, and the unique cultural traditions brought to the region by visiting monks from Thailand and Cambodia. Thanks to the generous patronage of Polonnaruwa’s kings and queens, the area became home to many stunning buildings and temples, earning it the contemporary designation of a UNESCO World Heritage site.

June 13: Secular Art and Architecture in Polonnaruwa

The rich cross-cultural exchange in Polonnaruwa was also reflected in the royal courts, where dynastic marriages with ruling families in India and South East Asia were common. In this lecture, we’ll focus on the outstanding architectural achievements and eclectic art that came out of this remarkable pooling of wealth, power and cultures.

June 20: Sandstone Marvels and Towering Temples: The Chandella Kingdom

The Khajuraho Monuments is a group of Hindu temples and Jain temples built 1000 years ago in Chhatarpur district, India. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the temples are famous for their rich architectural symbolism. Using local materials of brick, sandstone and medieval technology, the temples rose to impressive heights, towering over the rural landscape. In our penultimate lecture, Sudharshan will introduce us to the talented artists who produced these multi-religious structures and artworks on commissions from local rulers.

June 27: Stunning Sculptures and an Architectural Mystery

One the great mysteries in South Asian Art and Architecture concerns the vivid sculptures that adorn the walls of the temples of Khajuraho. Why were these masterful creations depicted on the building’s exterior? In this stirring finale to our South Asian journey, Sudharshan will explore the diverse interpretations of these secular life scenes and the erotic art of the temples’s Mithuna, or loving couples, a distinctive sculptural form that flourished in the region.

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