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Julia A. B. Hegewald. Distinctiveness and Diversity in Jaina Temple Architecture

Jaina temple architecture in India has been less the focus of architectural studies than material from a Buddhist or Hindu background. Buddhism and Jainism originated at the same time (c. 6th–5th century BCE), but the Jaina community endured the changes that led to the demise of Buddhism in India and has continued its art historical and architectural development uninterruptedly to the present day. However, later Jaina temple structures have rarely been described as unique, but have been considered largely to reflect the same logic and styles as Hindu architecture. This article will focus on Jaina temple edifices in order to demonstrate their distinctiveness and diversity.

Whilst the oldest surviving Jaina remains are rock-cut caves dating roughly from the 3rd century BCE, new shrines are continually being erected, creating an unbroken continuity of artistic creation. The temples are found in all regions of the subcontinent and exhibit a high degree of complexity and variation. Most reflect the use of building materials, techniques and styles common to the area and period of their construction. Nonetheless, despite this regional and stylistic adaptation, there are common underlying principles that govern the structural layout of Jaina temples more generally and make them distinct.

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May/June 2018
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