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	Mythologizing, Archaizing, and Localizing: Royal Glory and the Tenkasi Pandyas

Mythologizing, Archaizing, and Localizing: Royal Glory and the Tenkasi Pandyas

Leslie C. ORR

28 mai 2014 | 10h - 12h

[salle 638, 190-198 avenue de France, 75013 Paris]

 

A family of rulers claiming descent from the Pandya dynasty of Madurai established themselves in the mid-14th century in Tenkasi, 100 miles to the southwest of Madurai in the highlands near the Kerala border.  This presentation is an exploration of the means through which this obscure dynasty, with its limited territory, constructed an image of sovereignty and created a Pandya legacy for itself.

These kings re-used the royal eulogies of the Pandyas of the 12th and 13th centuries.  But their genealogies were quite novel, as they claimed a family connection with the legendary Pandyas descended from the goddess Minakshi and Shiva of Madurai.  Through temple renovation and patronage, and – in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries – the building of new temples (some deliberately constructed to look old), the Tenkasi rulers brought to their corner of South India the Saiva gods of the more extensive Pandya territory of the past, and even Lord Siva of Varanasi, who was enshrined at Tenkasi.  At the same time, the Tenkasi Pandyas expressed their kinship with these “imported” gods in the forms present in their new local homes.

Identifying on the one hand with a historically great regional power and a popular emergent South Indian Saiva mythology – and even a pan-Indian Saiva ethos – and, on the other hand, grounding these elements of grandeur and antiquity in a highly localized and particularized context, the Tenkasi Pandyas provide an important illustration of the complex interplay between the local and the cosmopolitan.

EHESS
CNRS

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