Digital Rare Book:
Principles of Indian Silpasastra
With the Text of Mayasastra
By Phanindra Nath Bose
Foreword by Dr. James H. Cousins
Published by The Punjab Sanskrit Book Depot, Lahore - 1926
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Shilpa Shastras literally means the Science of Shilpa (arts and crafts). It is an ancient umbrella term for numerous Hindu texts that describe arts, crafts, and their design rules, principles and standards. In the context of temple design, Shilpa Shastras were manuals for sculpture and Hindu iconography, prescribing among other things, the proportions of a sculptured figure, composition, principles, meaning, as well as rules of architecture.
Sixty-four techniques for such arts or crafts, sometimes called b?hya-kal? "external or practical arts", are traditionally enumerated, including carpentry, architecture, jewellery, farriery, acting, dancing, music, medicine, poetry etc., besides sixty-four abhyantara-kal? or "secret arts"' which include mostly "erotic arts" such as kissing, embracing, etc. (Monier-Williams s.v. ?ilpa).
While Shilpa and Vastu Shastras are related, Shilpa Shastras deal with arts and crafts such as forming statues, icons, stone murals, painting, carpentry, pottery, jewellery, dying, textiles and others. Vastu Shastras deal with building architecture - building houses, forts, temples, apartments, village and town layout, etc.
Durga Slaying the Buffalo Demon
India, Karnataka, 13th century
Credit: Museum Associates, dba Los Angeles County Museum of Art