In search of a mythical artisan: Tracking the Jakanachari legend of Karnataka

Publication Type:

Book Chapters


Human and Heritage: An Archaeological Spectrum of Asiatic Countries, New Bharatiya Book Corporation, New Delhi, p.497-524 (2019)



The Indian subcontinent has monument-building traditions which date back at least three millennia, if we take into consideration megalithic structures too, as monuments. Later structures like stupas and temples probably derived inspiration from the forms and purposes of these monuments from prehistoric periods (Menon 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018). Construction of temples in stone in southern India started in the 6th and 7th centuries CE, at three nuclei – centered on Badami in present-day Karnataka, under the Western Chalukyas, Kanchi, under the Pallavas, in present-day Tamil Nadu, and Madurai, under the Pandya rulers (Srinivasan 1972). In Karnataka, the temple building tradition evolved continuously in a coherent manner over a period of seven centuries, despite the land coming under the rule of various dynasties (Hardy 1995), demonstrating marked transformation in form, in the process. In particular, this points to continuity in the artisanal guilds involved in the design and construction of temples, which continued to enjoy patronage by successive ruling dynasties.