Research Paper

Kīrtimukha in the Art of the Kapili-Jamuna Valley of Assam: An Artistic Survey

Authors: Mrigakhee Saikia & Paromita Das

Year: 2021, Volume: 12, Page/Article: 1, DOI:

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The figure of the kīrtimukha or ‘glory- face’ is an artistic motif that appears on early Indian art and architecture, initially as a sacred symbol and then more commonly as a decorative element. In Assam, the motif of kīrtimukha is seen crowning the stele of the stray icons of the early medieval period. The motif also appeared in the structural components of the ancient and early medieval temples of Assam. The Kapili-Jamuna valley, situated in the districts of Nagaon, Marigaon and Hojai in central Assam houses innumerable rich archaeological remains, especially temple ruins and sculptures, both stone and terracotta. Many such architectural components are adorned by the kīrtimukha figures, usually carved in low relief. It is proposed to discuss the iconographic features of the kīrtimukha motif in the art of the Kapili-Jamuna valley of Assam and also examine whether the iconographic depictions of the kīrtimukha as prescribed in canonical texts, such as the Śilpaśāstras are reflected in the art of the valley. Pan Asian linkages of the kīrtimukha motif will also be examined.