Volltext: Anthropos, 76.1981

Ur 4JJ9. 
The Architecture and Organization 
of Kerala Style Hindu Temples 
William A. Noble 
Abstract. -Asa basic guiding principle, some emphasis is given to a widespread belief 
among South Asians that existence is centered in creation, or god, or the gods, or nirvana, or 
any combination of these. The architectural response to centrality by Buddhists, Jainas, and 
Hindus exists at centers as widely separated in space as Taht-i-Bahi [in Pakistan), Martand, 
Girnar, Tanjore (in India), and Paharpur (in Bangla Desk), and as widely separated in 
time as the stupa at Shah-Dheri (about 1st Cent. B.C.) and the presently used Hindu temples 
of Kerala State, India. In the Hindu temples of Kerala style, the principle of centrality was 
strongly adhered to and is architecturally reflected in the most basic, simple forms. — For 
Kerala style Hindu temples, the parts are first identified. These then are used, like building 
blocks, to reveal how well-established principles guided the construction of a spectrum of 
simple to complex temples. Always, in temple development, was there special attention payed 
to the centering of the deity’s image, or the images of deities, in each temple. 
In 1972 Hiroshi Tanaka walked to the 88 Buddhist pilgrimage centers of 
Shikoku, Japan. His subsequent analysis focused upon the reality that "no 
two temple compounds are identical, but all include the same basic elements 
and share similar characteristics” (Tanaka 1977:111). If one deals with a 
William A. Noble, Ph. D., is Associate Professor at the University of Missouri, 
Columbia, Missouri. - He has for over ten years been collecting data pertaining to sati in 
India. Noble’s interest in South Asian folk architecture has continued for over fifteen years 
(cf, e.g., Anthropos 61. 1966: 727ff.; 71. 1976: 90ff.). He is currently preparing a report 
‘‘Houses with Central Courtyards, in Kerala (South India).” He has also been studying 
South Indian Megalithic remains for a similar period of time. 
Fieldwork in Kerala was supported by the Fulbright-Hays Faculty Research Study 
Program, Office of Education, U. S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. The 
illustrations complementing this article were completed with the aid of a grant from the 
Research Council of the Graduate School, University of Missouri, Columbia. The publica 
tion of additional photographic plates was funded by a grant from a Special Fund provided 
by the Alumni Development Board of the University of Missouri, Columbia. 
Anthropos 76. 1981 


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