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Response paper 43-56 - AH 105 Response Paper Playful...

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2/25/08 AH 105 Response Paper: Playful Ambiguity and Political Authority at the Large Relief at Mamallapuram Throughout the interpretation of ancient Indian art, art historians have deciphered many universal symbols and narratives; however, there are always countless ways to read a piece of art. I do not wish to make any over-arching statements about the entirety of Indian art history, but I believe that the approach that Padma Kaimal and a few of her colleagues have taken on the large piece at Mamallapuram is the wisest of the relief’s interpretations. The city in possession of the frieze, Mamallapuram, was a “primary trade and port city of the southern Indian Pallava dynasty” in the seventh century. (43) Mamallapuram is home to countless granite monuments, but the most famous of these is a narrative relief overlooking the Indian bay. While our class has seen only singular narratives portrayed in a similar style, this relief contains “elements from at least two major stories found in the Indian textual tradition.”(43) “Do these figures […] allude to penance the warrior Arjuna
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