Stone carving and tourist arts in Mamallapuram, South India
(University of Eastern Finland)
Paper short abstract:
My research focuses on the Hindu stone carving tradition and its engagement with the international tourist market in Mamallapuram, South India. I am specifically looking at the artistic and religious or spiritual meanings and agency of the sculptures that are made and sold in the tourist market.
Paper long abstract:
I am currently working on my PhD thesis on the topic of stone carving and tourist arts with religious motifs in Mamallapuram, South India. Mamallapuram is one the stone carving centres of India but also a popular international tourist destination. The town is most famous for its ancient rock-carved monuments and it is one of the UNESCO world heritage sites. In addition, there is an on-going, vibrant stone carving industry that attracts both domestic and foreign visitors. Hundreds of carvers produce mainly sculptures of different Hindu gods and goddesses and their work is based on the age-old Hindu stone carving tradition. Deity sculptures are made for Hindu temples and shrines around the world but also to be sold as souvenirs on the international tourist market in Mamallapuram. The tourist statues are fairly similar to the temple sculptures but usually differ in terms of the stones that are being used, production techniques, size, details and sometimes even iconography. My research focuses on the artistic and religious or spiritual meanings and agency of these tourist sculptures and I am analysing them based on the views of the foreign tourists and local people, mainly stone carvers. In addition, I am also looking at the possible changes that has occured in the Hindu stone carving tradition as a result of tourism in Mamallapuram.
Anthropologies of art