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Praying through Politics, Ruling Through Religion: The Rajarajeswaram as an Instrument of Economic and Political Unification in the Chola Empire


Preeti Talwai provides an original and multi-layered reading of the Rajarajeswaram temple in 11th century southern India. Through images and words, Preeti demonstrates how she drew from broad and specialized resources of the UC Berkeley Library (in many locations and formats) to construct an informed and engaging paper on the significance of one particular Hindu temple, built between 1003 and 1010 C.E., and during the apogee of the Chola Empire under Rajaran I. She made use of both OskiCat and Melvyl to search across UC collections, and she used the Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals, JSTOR, and other electronic article databases to gather both Western and Eastern perspectives on the Rajarajeswaram. The photographs and drawings which didactically and beautifully embellish her paper were scanned from books from the Environmental Design Library or discovered in the Library’s subscription to the ARTstor Digital Library. Preeti’s well-thought out and iterative research strategy included a careful analysis of the temple’s physical space based on primary visual sources, followed by searches for diverse interpretations in secondary literature. Not the likely location for architecture or primary sources on India, Preeti even consulted seminar archives that reside in the Bancroft Library to support her thesis that Rajaraja I combined architectural forms and structure with art, iconography, sculpture, and inscription to create a temple to Shiva that transcended the realm of Hinduism as it was known until his rule.

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