« PreviousContinue »
Roman orders depends, not only on the dimensions of columns, but also on the form of the other parts belonging to them.
Concerning the proportions of columns, the second sort of column in the Hindú architecture may be compared with the Tuscan, the third with the Doric, the fourth with the Ionic, and the fifth with the Corinthian or Composite pillar. This affinity between the columns of India and of Rome and Greece is so striking, that one would be apt to ascribe it to something more than mere chance, but there are other columns in the Indian architecture, not only one diameter lower than the Tuscan, but from one to two diameters higher than the Composite.
The Egyptian columns appear to have no fixed proportion in regard to thickness and height. In some of the specimens of the ruins of Upper Egypt, the height of the columns consists of from four to six times the lower diameter, which last proportion coincides with that of the first sort of the Indian pillar.
The orders of India, and of Greece and Rome, are remarkable for the beautiful effect of their proportions, a circumstance to which little regard has been paid by the Egyptians.
Both the Indian and Grecian columns are diminished gradually in their diameter from the base to the summit of the shaft, a practice which has never been observed in the Egyptian ; on the contrary, a diametrically opposite rule has been observed in their shafts, which are made narrower at the bottom than at the top, and placed upon a square or round plinth.
The proportion in which the diminution at the top of the columns of the two former is made, seems to have been regulated by the same principle, though not by the same rule. The general rule adopted by the Hindú architects in this respect, is, that the thickness at the bottom, being divided into as many parts as there are diameters in the whole height of the column, one of these parts is invariably diminished at the top; but in the Grecian and Roman architecture, the diameter of the upper part of the shaft, in a column of fifteen feet in height, is made one-sixth less than its
thickness at the base; and in a column of fifty feet, the diminution is oneeighth. The higher the columns are, the less they diminish, because the apparent diminution of the diameter in columns of the same proportion, is always greater according to their height, and this principle is supposed to have been discovered with great scientific skill, and is adduced as one of the proofs of the highly refined taste of the Greeks; but we observe, that precepts derived from the same principle have been taught and practised in India from time immemorial.
The plan of the Grecian and Roman columns is always round; but the plan of the Hindú columns admits of every shape, and is frequently found in the quadrangular and octangular form, and richly adorned with sculptured ornaments. The form of the Egyptian pillars too, is circular, and their shafts are often fluted like the Corinthian, but the fluting of the Indian columns resembles neither the one nor the other. The decorations of the Egyptian columns often consist in representations of a bundle of reeds” tied up with a cord on the top, having a square stone placed over it; in some specimens are also found bindings or fillets in various parts of the shaft, and in the interval between them, reeds and hieroglyphics are represented. But there is nothing like these ornaments in the Indian orders, except in the columns found in the excavated temple of Elephanta, and some other places, and which differ materially from those employed in other situations in Hindústan.
There are no fixed intercolumniations in the Hindú architecture, as are found in the Grecian, but the spaces allowed between pillar and pillar in different Hindú buildings, are found nearly to coincide with the Grecian mode of intercolumniations, though in too many instances they differ widely froin it, and the same may perhaps be said of the Egyptian colonnades.
The Indian pedestals and bases are made more systematically, and afford by far a greater variety of proportions and ornaments, than the Grecian and Roman. In the European architecture, the forms and dimensions of the pedestals and bases are fixed by invariable rules, with respect to the orders
in which they are employed; but in the Indian, the choice is left to the option of the artists.
The capitals of the Grecian columns invariably mark the distinction of the several orders: those of the Indian are varied at pleasure, though not without regard to the diameter and length of the shaft; and the forms of the plainest of them, though they have in reality nothing in common with the Grecian order, are found at a distant view to bear some resemblance to the Doric and Ionic capitals; but those of a more elaborate kind are sometimes so overloaded with a sort of filligree ornaments, as to destroy the effect of the beautiful proportions of the whole. The Egyptian capitals, on the other hand, are formed into elegant vase shapes, decorated with the stalks, leaves, and blossoms of the lotus, and occasionally with palm leaves, which latter ornaments are supposed to have given the first idea of the Corinthian capitals. And in some specimens, the Egyptian capital is composed of the representation of the head of the goddess Isis.
The entablature of the Indian order admits of little variety, as well in its composition, as in its relative proportions, whereas the same member in the Grecian and Roman architecture, is varied for each order both in form and magnitude. The massiveness of the Indian entablature offers a striking contrast to the lightness of the Grecian; but the richness of the former may be said to be unrivalled.
In the existing treatises on Hindú architecture, no mention is made of any thing like a substitution of human figures for columns to support the entablature, but the shaft is directed to be adorned with the figures of demons and animals; yet various examples are to be met with in which human figures, as well as representations of animals, are employed in bold relief in the sides of pillars in temples and porticoes, but by no means like those found in Egyptian architecture. The antiquity of this invention in India is not determined, but the Grecian architects refer the origin of their caryatides to the commemoration of their captivity of the Caryan women, while others assert that it was derived from an Egyptian source.
We now return to the ninth chapter of the Mánasára, which treats of villages and towns, and this being made to appear as belonging to architecture, inasmuch as it regards the formation of streets and the allotment of suitable sites for the building of temples, piazzas, &c., I beg leave to subjoin a few extracts from it, trusting that the rules which they contain will serve to trace out the principles upon which a Hindú village or town is built, and that they will not be altogether uninteresting to those who delight in Indian antiquities.
“ The extent of villages or towns is declared to admit of forty varieties, consisting of from five hundred to twenty thousand dandás square, each sort exceeding the one immediately below it by five hundred dandás. The whole area of a village, with the lands thereunto belonging, being divided into twenty equal parts, one is assigned for the occupation of Brahmans, six or more for that of the three other classes, and the remainder for agriculture.” “ A street that goes round the village or town is called mangalavíť hi, which should be from one to five dandás in width. That which runs from east to west is called rájapat'ha ; that which has gates on both sides rájavít'hi; that which has sand’his or angles, sand' hivit'hi ; and that which is in a southerly direction, mahácala or vámana."
“ Previously to building villages, towns, &c., let the st'hapati trace upon the ground selected for the purpose, any of the mystical figures described in the seventh chapter, and particularly that which is called paramasáyica,
The seventh chapter of the Mánásara describes certain mystical figures which are traced on the ground plan of villages, &c. for the purpose, not only of offering oblations and sacrifices to the divinities who are supposed to preside over their various parts, but also of dividing the area into several compartments, to be applied, according to their supposed fitness, to the building of temples, and the formation of high roads, streets, &c. ; to each of which purposes the part over which a certain deity presides is considered more adapted than any other. An enumeration of the several figures, and of the deities presiding over their various parts, would however be little interesting or instructive to the European reader.
and after offering the prescribed sacrifices to the deities presiding over its various parts, let him proceed to arrange the streets, and mark out sites for building temples, &c., according to the rules laid down in the Sástras."
“ There are eight sorts of villages or towns, namely, 1. dandáca (that which resembles a staff); 2. sarvatób’hadra (in every respect happy); 3. nandyávartta (the abode of happiness); 4. padmaca (that which has the form of a lotus flower); 5. sivastica (that which resembles the mystical figure so named); 6. prastara (that which has the shape of a conch); 7. cármuca (that which resembles a bow); and 8. chaturmuc'ha (that which has four faces).
“ The village called dandáca is quadrangular, and surrounded by a square wall. It consists of from one to five parallel streets, running in one direction, generally from east to west, and of two more streets forming right angles at both the extremities of the five parallel streets, and also of a third crossing the middle of them. The breadth of the streets is from one to five dandás, and the middlemost may be made broader than the rest. The streets at the extremities or near the walls have a single row of houses; the centre streets a double row, or one on each side. The space occupied by each house should be from three to five dandás broad, and from two to four dandás long. There should be four large gates, one on each side of the enclosing wall of the village, and as many smaller ones at the several angles. In the part presided over by Varuna or Maytra, should be erected a temple for Vishnu; and in that presided over by Adita, at the north-east angle, one dedicated to Siva; a shrine, for Chamunda,* should be built near the north gate without the wall. There should be two tanks t or reservoirs, one towards the south-west and the other towards the north-east. This village
* The goddess of destruction, a form of Bhavani.
† The south of India is famous for the beautiful workmanship of its reservoirs, which are generally very spacious, and completely lined with stone, furnished with steps, and ornamented with pavilions, &c.