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Identifying Portraits

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Chapter Summary

If a 'portrait' is to be distinguished from an 'image' according to the three criteria enounced so far: intention, perception and function, it is now time to see what it represents in South Asian art. This chapter then seeks to draw a typology of portraiture in early India; this typology relies on media as well as on shapes, without taking into consideration (for the moment) the chronological issue. It will become apparent that the boundaries between 'portraits' and other types of 'images' are sometimes blurred. In this typological attempt, it tries to mention, along with the preserved ones, some types of portraits which may have existed at a certain moment but which have disappeared. We can nevertheless keep in mind that the Tanjavur murals may comprise portraits. The chapter discusses painted portraits, portraits in the round and devotional portraiture, coins, double-meaning images, and naming the image.

Keywords: devotional portraiture; painted portraits; South Asian art; Tanjavur murals



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