Stones and Images

Stones et images

Religious Representations

Continuing the line of research developed in the preceding four-year period, this programme, headed by Charlotte Schmid, will focus on corpuses of religious representations taking into account, amongst other things, available texts (in Sanskrit and Tamil), and inscriptions, the archaeological character of which will be emphasised. The programme is articulated around two major axes: iconographic ruptures in ancient India and the corpus of village temples from the Chola period (9th-13th centuries), two areas of research characterised by the recurrent appearance of the figure of Krishna and the relationship between local culture and royal power.

Within the EFEO, cooperation with Indian scholars working at the Pondicherry Centre, particularly the Tamil-speakers G. Vijayavenugopal, R. Varadadesikan and T.V. Gangadharan, is indispensible. The contributions of art historian Valérie Gillet and the close collaboration of philologists Dominic Goodall and Eva Wilden are, as ever, extremely valuable.

Iconographic Ruptures

The Appearance of Figures Representing Gods in Northern India: Krishna
A study of the appearance of images of the god Krishna. The iconographic rupture which took place in the Gupta era (4th-6th century) reveals the original complexity of relationships with the god Vishnu. The manuscript of a work on the beginnings of the Krishnaite cults in northern India, the first draft of which is complete, is to be delivered in 2007 for publication in 2008-2009.

The Appearance of Figures Representing Gods in Southern India: Pallava Iconography
The aim of the project is to produce a book - co-written by Valérie Gillet, Emmanuel Francis (graduate student at Louvain-le-Neuve University) and Charlotte Schmid - on the main temple of the Pallava dynasty -9th-10th century): the Kailasanatha at Kanchipuram (Tamil Nadu). The temple, with its exceptional examples of royal art, displaying a combination of epigraphy, iconography and visual inventiveness, was the first site in which representations of divinities appeared. The style of those representations was to become highly influential not only in Tamil Nadu but throughout Southern India and even in certain Indianised regions. In spite of this, the temple has never been the object of a monographic publication. The project continues the tradition of the EFEO's archaeological memoirs (see the works of Jacques Dumarçay, Françoise L'Hernault and Pierre Pichard).
Preparatory work on the project is well underway and the task of collecting the necessary source data is almost complete. Work on the structure of the book, which is yet to be written, still has to be done. Source materials for the CD-ROM accompanying the book, which could include documents held in the EFEO Centre and the IFP's photo library, also need to be referenced by an IT database specialist.
The manuscript should be ready by late 2009 or early 2010 (it would be preferable for an Indian publisher to publish an English-language translation distributed solely in India). A posting of one or two years may be necessary in the final phase of the elaboration of the work.


With the logistical and scientific help of N. Ramaswamy (chauffeur-assistant) and G. Ravindran (photographer) both of whom are posted at Pondicherry, Charlotte Schmid has been able to compile an outstanding corpus of previously unpublished representations of female divinities from the Tamil-speaking region which shed light on adaptations of northern Indian concepts to the southern context in the Pallava period. The project is set to be published in book form in 2010 (leaving time to complete work on the corpus which has already been collected); the collaboration with Valérie Gillet may make it possible to publish a number of photographic images online in either 2009 and 2010 (see D.3.3, Epigraphic Photo Library).

Village Temples in the Chola Period

A large corpus of artefacts from village temples from the Chola period, including narrative friezes mirrored in different versions in narrative literature, has provided ideal subject matter for monographic studies - on, for example - unpublished epigraphic corpuses. New avenues of research have been opened: local incarnations of centralised power, the tradition of royal eulogies, networks of donators, sectarian rivalries, the birth of the cult of saints in Tamil Nadu and the problem of linking elements of the corpus of devotional hymns as it is known to us today to specific temples. The research will be organised and, eventually, published as follows:

Monographic Studies: Iconography and Epigraphy of the Temples of Puncai, Tirucennampunti, Tirumangalam and Kumbakonam.
Late 2008, online publication of the epigraphic corpus of the temple at Puncai (texts, translations and photos); late 2008-early 2009, publication of an article on the epigraphy and iconography of the Puncai temple. The texts and photos of this corpus are ready as is a first draft of the article; the translations need to be checked, the article completed, and the IT system implemented.
Late 2009-early 2010, the publication, using the same methodology, of the corpus of the temple at Tirucennampunti. The texts and photos of the inscriptions (a smaller corpus) are also ready; the article to be published in a journal will focus on the definition of so-called Chola art and local cultures, emphasising the supposed role of the Chola dynasties in this type of temple (a subject addressed in an EPHE seminar in 2006-2007).
Epigraphic corpuses are being collected and revised with a view to publishing further articles on the temples at Tirumangalam and Nageshvara at Kumbakonam. At least one of these articles could be published in 2011.
The section of the programme dealing with iconography (which has already been addressed in a number of articles) concerns the status of narrative. This section is the object of a joint-project involving our colleagues Mariekke Klokke and Ellen Raven of the University of Leiden in the framework of a Master's degree on narrative in Indian and in Indianised countries (conferences, cycles of intensive courses, etc.).
Organised on a regular basis, between one and three annual missions, each lasting between one and two months, will be sufficient within the context of this programme. Scholarly assistance from the Pondicherry Centre via the collaboration of G. Vijayavenugopal, as well as logistical assistance, (a car, chauffeur-assistants, photolab) will also be required.

Chola Village temples and the Establishment of the Tevaram Corpus
Carried out in collaboration with Jean-Luc Chevillard (CNRS, editor of the Tevaram CD co-published by the EFEO and the IFP in 2006) and Leslie Orr (Concordia University, Montreal; author of the preface to G. Vijayavenugopal's Pondicherry Inscriptions co-published by the EFEO and the IFP in 2006), the project focuses an reevaluating the balance between legend and historical reality in the establishment of the Tevaram corpus, the corpus of Saiva devotional hymns in Tamil (particularly the geographical origins of specific hymns), and the birth of the cult of Saiva saints in the Tamil-speaking region. The project, which could give rise to an article by various authors, will be the subject of a series of conferences.

The Iconography of Krishna in Chola Village Temples: Northern Tradition and Tamil Devotional Practices
The EFEO is working with André Couture (Laval University, Quebec) on a project to establish a Krishnaite iconography specific to southern India. Couture will be evaluating the influence of the Harivamsha, a Sanskrit text written in northern India between the second and fourth centuries CE. A comparison between northern Indian and Sanskrit texts and the southern tradition, examples of which are to be found in Chola village temples, as well as with Vishnuist devotional hymns studied in collaboration with R. Varada Desikan of the Pondicherry Centre, has made it possible to reappraise the role played by southern India in the evolution of the Pan-Indian figure of the god Krishna. Charlotte Schmid has written the first draft of an article on the apparition and evolution of Krishna as a musician-divinity (approximately sixty pages); the translations of the Tamil hymns on which the article is partially based need to be checked and work needs to be done on ensuring that the corpus of representations used is large enough. The article is set for publication in 2009.

New publication
06 December 2017
Cahiers d'Extrême-Asie 25 (2016)

Daoist Lives, Community and Place

Release of the photographic collection of Pierre Pichard

999 photographs by the architect Pierre Pichard, former member of the EFEO, are now on line on the photo library website. These pictures were taken between 1987 and 2004 during missions in Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Laos, Burma, Bhutan, Nepal, Cambodia, Thailand and South Korea.
Paris EFEO Seminar

On Monday 13th November Ryosuke Furui (Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, University of Tokyo) is speaking on "Changing Structure of Political Powers in South Asia: Bengal from the Fifth to the Thirteenth Century"

11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (Free admission)
Maison de l'Asie, First floor salon, 22 avenue du Président Wilson, 75116 Paris
Symposium ''Gestion des eaux d'Angkor: Bilan des ├ętudes et perspectives''

On Friday 10th November the Association des Amis d'Angkor (AAA) organized the symposium Gestion des eaux d'Angkor: Bilan des études et perspectives
Maric Beaufeïst speaks on" The restoration of western Mébon and the utilisation of new technologies"

"SETEC" Auditorium, building Central Seine, 46, quai de la Rapée, 75012 Paris
Paris EFEO Seminar

On Monday 6th November Yoon Hyong-jin (Asiatic Research Institue, Korea University) is speaking on "Community Organizations in the Colonial East Asia and its legacy: Focused on 'Baojia'".

11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (Free admission)
Maison de l'Asie, First floor salon, 22 avenue du Président Wilson, 75116 Paris