The architecture of India is rooted in its history, culture and the numerous religions worshipped by the people. The information on architecture was, however, available only in the silpa-shastras, which concerned themselves largely with theoretical and religious matters, and not the forms of existing buildings. A systematic study of Indian architecture and its principles only begai1 in the 1ff” century through the painstaking works of British scholars and engineers using for the first time, the newly-invented photography and the use of site plans. Fergusson’s two-volume History of Median and Eastern. Architecture, which appeared in 1876, was the result of such efforts, and was the first-ever major publication of its kind Fergusson examined and classified ancient Indian architecture into Buddhist. Himalayan, Dravidian and Chalukvan styles, noting that differences m architectural styles could be attributed to differences in religion.
Ferguson further extended his mvestgaton into Burma, Southeast Asia, China and Japan, where Indian religions and axthitectural styles had been adopted to suit local conditions and sensibilities. A pioneering classic, Fergusson’s History sheds light not only on the forms of ancient Indian architecture, but also the mental landscape of the British scholars ho studied it. Though subsequent scholars such as E.B. Have and Ananda K. üomaraswamy have criticized Fergusson’s conclusions, the value of his detailed presentation has always been acknowledged. The text is that of thel9lO edition, revised and expanded by James Burgess and R. Phone Spires.
James Fergusson was born in 1808 in Scotland and educated in Edinburgh. He end grated to Kolkata where he worked as a partner in I merchant house. He became a highly successful indigo planter. This enabled him to retire after 10 years in India, entree in London, and get trained as an architect. During his travels across India he became interested in its architecture, between 1834 and 1843 he made numerous research trips to India, art published That Rock-To Temples of India (184). A prolific writer, Fergusson’s other books include The Handbook of Architecture (1855), History of Modern Arch texture (1 862) Panics of Nineveh and Persepolis Rest, wed (1851), Trees and Serpent Worship (1868) and The Temples of the Jews in Jerusalem (1878). He also presented papers at the British Institute of Architects on the architecture of southern India and Bijapur, among other topics. He died in
DURING the nine years that have elapsed since I last wrote
on this subject,’ very considerable progress has been made in the elucidation of many of the problems that still perplex the student of the History of Indian Architecture. The publication of the five volumes of General Cunningham’s ‘Archeological Reports’ has thrown new light on many obscure points, but generally from an archeological rather than from an architectural point of view; and Mr. Burgess’s researches among the western caves and the structural temples of the Bombay presidency have added greatly not only to our stores of information, but to the precision of our knowledge regarding them.
For the purpose of such a work as this, however, photo. Graph has probably done more than anything that has been written. There are now very few buildings in India—of any importance at least—which have not been photographed with more or less completeness; and for purposes of comparison such collections of photographs as are now available are simply invaluable. For detecting similarities or distinguishing differ. Fences between specimens situated at distances from one another, photographs are almost equal to actual personal inspection, and, when sufficiently numerous, afford a picture of Indian art of the utmost importance to any one attempting to describe it.
These new aids, added to our previous stock of knowledge, are probably sufficient to justify us in treating the architecture of India Proper in the quasi-exhaustive manner in which it is attempted, in the first 600 pages of this work. Its description might, of course, be easily extended even beyond these limits, but without plans and more accurate architectural details than we at present possess, any such additions would practically contribute very little that was valuable to the information the work already contains.
The case is different when we turn to Further India. Instead of only too pages and o illustrations, both these figures ought at least to be doubled to bring that branch of the subject up to the same stage of completeness as that describing the architecture of India Proper. For this, however, the materials do not at present exist. Of Japan we know almost nothing except from photographs, without plans, dimensions, or dates; and, except as regards Peking and the Treaty Ports, we know almost as little of China, We know a great deal about one or two buildings in Cambodia and Java, but our information regarding all the rest is so fragmentary and incomplete, that it is hardly available for the purposes of a general history, and the same may be said of Burma and Siam. Ten years hence this deficiency may be supplied, and it may then be possible to bring the whole into harmony. At present a slight sketch indicating the relative position of each, and their relation to the styles of India Proper, is all that can be well accomplished.
Although appearing as the third volume of the second edition of the ‘General History of Architecture,’ the present may be considered as an independent and original work. In the last edition the Indian chapters extended only to about too pages, with 200 illustrations,’ and though most of the woodcuts reappear in the present volume, more than half the original text has been cancelled, and consequently at least 600 pages of the present work are original matter, and 200 illustrations— and these by far the most important—have been added. These, with the new chronological and topographical details, present the subject to the English reader, in a more compact and complete form than has been attempted in any work on Indian architecture hitherto published. It does not, as I feel only too keenly, contain all the information that could be desired, but I am afraid it contains nearly all that the materials at present available will admit of being utilized, in a general history of the style.
When I published my first work on Indian architecture thirty years ago, I was reproached for making dogmatic assertions, and propounding theories which I did not even attempt to sustain. The defect was, I am afraid, inevitable. My conclusions were based upon the examination of the actual buildings throughout the three Presidencies of India and in China during ten years’ residence in the East, and to have placed before the world the multitudinous details which were the ground of my generalizations, would have required an additional amount of description and engravings which was not warranted by the interest felt in the subject at that time, The numerous engravings in the present volume, the extended letterpress, and the references to works of later laborers in the wide domain of Indian architecture, will greatly diminish, but cannot entirely remove, the old objection. No man can direct his mind for forty years to the earnest investigation of any department of knowledge, and not become acquainted with a host of particulars, and acquire a species of insight which neither time, nor space, nor perhaps the resources of language will permit him to reproduce in their fullness. I possess, to give a single instance, more than 3,000 photographs of Indian buildings, with which constant use has made me as familiar as with any other object that is perpetually before my eyes, and to recapitulate all the information they convey to long- continued scrutiny, would be an endless, if not indeed an impossible undertaking. The necessities of the case demand that broad results should often be given when the evidence for the statements must be merely indicated or greatly abridged, and if the conclusions sometimes go beyond the appended proofs, I can only ask my readers to believe that the assertions are not speculative fancies, but deductions from facts. My endeavor from the first has been to present a distinct view of the general principles which have governed the historical development of Indian architecture, and my hope is that those who pursue the subject beyond the pages of the present work, will find that the principles I have enunciated will reduce to order the multifarious details, and that the details in turn will confirm the principles. Though the vast amount of fresh knowledge which has gone on accumulating since I commenced my investigations has enabled me to correct, modify, and enlarge my views, yet the classification I adopted, and the historical sequences I pointed out thirty years since, have in their essential outlines been confirmed, and will continue, I trust, to stand good. Many subsidiary questions remain unsettled, but my impression is, that not a few of the discordant opinions that may be observed arise principally from the different courses which enquirers have pursued in their investigations. Some men of great eminence and learning, more conversant with books than buildings, have naturally drawn their knowledge and inferences from written authorities, none of which are contemporaneous with the events they relate, and all of which have been avowedly altered and falsified in later times. My authorities, on the contrary, have been mainly the imperishable records in the rocks, or on sculptures and carvings, which necessarily represented at the time the faith and feelings of those who executed them, and which retain their original impress to this day. In such a country as India, the chisels of her sculptors are, so far as I can judge, immeasurably more to be trusted than the pens of her authors. These secondary points, however, may well await the solution which time and further study will doubtless supply. In the meanwhile, I shall have realized a long-cherished dream if
have succeeded in popularizing the subject by rendering its principles generally intelligible, and can thus give an impulse to its study, and assist in establishing Indian architecture on a stable basis, so that it may take its true position among
the other great styles which have ennobled the arts of mankind.
The publication of this volume completes the history of the ‘Architecture in all countries, from the earliest times to the present day, in four volumes,’ and there it must at present rest. As originally projected, it was intended to have added a fifth volume on ‘Rude Stone Monuments,’ which is still wanted to make the series quite complete; but, as explained in the preface to my work bearing that title, the subject was not, when it was written, ripe for a historical treatment, and the materials collected were consequently used in an argumentative essay. Since that work was published, in 1872, no serious examination of its arguments has been undertaken by any competent authority, while every new fact that has come to light—especially in India—has served to confirm me more and more in the correctness of the principles I then tried to establish.1 Unless, however, the matter is taken up seriously, and re-examined by those who, from their position, have the ear of the public in these matters, no such progress will be made as would justify the publication of a second work on the same subject. I consequently see no chance of my ever having an opportunity of taking up the subject again, so as to be able to describe its objects in a more consecutive or more exhaustive manner than was done in the work just alluded to.
THE late Mr. Fergusson’s ‘History of Indian and Eastern Architecture’ has now been before the public for more than thirty years, and was reprinted (without his consent) in America, before his death in 1886, and the publishers issued a reprint in 1891. His method of treating the subject he has thus described:—“What I have attempted to do during the last forty years has been to apply to Indian Architecture the same principles of archeological science which are universally .adopted not only in England, but in every country in Europe. Since the publication of Rickman’s ‘Attempt to discriminate the Styles of Architecture in England’ in 1817, style has been allowed to supersede all other evidences for the age of any building, not only in Medieval, but in Byzantine, Classical, and, in fact, all other true styles. Any accomplished antiquary, looking at any archway or any molding, can say at once, this is Norman, or Early English, or Decorated, or Tudor; and if familiar with the style, tell the date within a few years, whether it belongs to a cathedral or a parish church, a dwelling house or a grange, . . . is not of the smallest consequence, nor whether it belongs to the marvelously elaborate quasi- Byzantine style of the age of the Conqueror, or to the prosaic tameness of that of the age of Elizabeth. Owing to its perfect originality and freedom from all foreign admixture. or influence, I believe these principles, so universally adopted in this country, are even more applicable to the Indian styles than to the European.”
The successful application of these principles to Indian architecture was entirely his own: no one had dreamed of it before, it was a stroke of genius to trace out logically the historical sequences of the Hinds monuments and make them tell their own story by means of those guiding principles which he was the first to apply to them, and to elucidate their applicability in a manner that has been borne out since without exception wherever they have been intelligently applied. Though descriptions of Indian monuments may be written in various ways, no one could pretend to take up the systematic study .of Indian Architecture without the aid of this work, and no history of the architecture can be scientifically written without appropriating the principles Mr. Fergusson showed how to apply.
My close intimacy with Mr. Fergusson for twenty years, and knowledge of his opinions, may have suggested that I might undertake the revisal of his work; but, when it was first proposed, I was engaged on the preparation of certain volumes of the Archaeological Reports of the Indian Survey that had been entrusted to me and I could not then undertake it, On the appointment of a new director for the Surveys, at the close of yogi, the materials were taken out of my hands and my engagement terminated. I was then at liberty to undertake the revision of the work, and in doing so I naturally depended on the like help that had been afforded to Mr. Fergusson himself in 1875, when the resources of the Surveys were at his disposal. But obstruction was raised where it ought hardly to have been expected, and it was due to the good offices of the Right Honorable Lord Morley, Secretary of State for India, that this was largely overcome. The materials in the India Office were at once liberally placed at my disposal, and the Government of India requested to favor the work. This, however, caused delay, and subsequent severe illness has protracted the preparation of the work.
It would have been easy to expand this history, but, if it was to answer its purpose as a handbook, it must obviously be restricted within moderate dimensions. My aim has been to condense where practicable and, whilst revising, to make only such additions from the accessible materials accumulated since 1876, as seemed requisite. The Archeological Surveys have collected vast stores of drawings only a fraction of which has yet been published. Travelers too, influenced partly perhaps
by the interest that Mr. Fergusson’s volume had created, have published works that have added to our information.
The great advances made in Indian Epigraphy and Paleography during the same period have further enabled us to revise and fix more accurately the dates in the earlier chronology of India; but this has not materially affected the author’s chronic-metric scale of arrangement of the monuments, for where the dates have been somewhat altered, the relative places of the monuments have not required to be changed,—only thy have been better adjusted; and in many cases Mr. Fergusson, in his later years, had accepted these corrections.
For much valued aid and information my thanks are due to Mr. Henry Cousins, Superintendent of the Western India Archeological Circle; and to Mr. ?demander Rea of the Madras Circle, from both of whom I have received ungrudging assist once, relative to the districts under their charge.
For Ceylon I am greatly indebted to Lord Stanmore and the Colonial Office, whilst Mr. J. G. Smother, late Government architect, and Mr. H. C. P. Bell, C.C.S., Archeological Commissioner, very kindly have read the proofs and supplied
important advice and material for the chapter on the architecture of the Island.
I owe thanks also for valued help to Bab Monmohan Chakravarti, M.A., relative to Orissa; and among others to Mr. R. F. Chisholm, F. R. l. B. A.; Mr. H. C. Fanshawe, C.S.I.; Dr. 3. F. Fleet, C.I.E.; Professor Dr. H. Kern, Utrecht; the Right Honbie. Ameer ‘Au; Mr. G. F. Williams, State Engineer, IJdaypur; Lieut. Fred. M. Bailey, Indian Army; Mr. F. H. Andrews; Dr. L. D. Barnett, and the Rev. Dr. Win. Millar, C.I.E. To Messrs. Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner and Co., I am indebted for the use of a number of woodcuts.
The history of Indian Architecture has been extended from 6io to 785 pages, and the illustrations in the text increased by 98, besides the addition of 34 plates from photographs. The chapters on Further India, Java and China have been edited and partly rewritten by Mr. R. Phené Spiers, the editor of Mr. Fergusson’s larger work, the ‘History of Ancient and Medieval Architecture,’ published in 1893. Mr. Spiers has recast these adapters, adding much fresh and important in formation to each, whilst he has also added a new chapter on the Architecture of Japan. For Burma, Mr. Spires has had to depend largely upon the few works published during the last thirty years describing the buildings there found, on the photographs in the India Office and on the somewhat meager notes contained in the ‘Progress Reports’ of the Archeological Survey.
For Cambodia, Siam and Java, on the other hand, were available the excellent publications of the French Archeological Surveys carried out at first under the supervision of the Ec0i Françoise dextrose Orient, and now under the skilled direction of the Archeological Commission of Indo - China,, and of the Java Surveys under the direction of the Dutch Government Archeological Commission.
This section occupied too pages with 49 woodcuts in the former edition; now, with the addition of Japan, it has been extended to 163 pages, with 6 woodcuts and 31 plates.
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