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Chapter 3: Defining Features

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Chapter Summary

In the consideration of Ajanta's "defining features", this chapter analyzes the development of a number of Ajanta's most revealing excavated forms, both architectural and sculptural, as they change over the course of time. It discusses that the most striking of Ajanta's many "defining features", the monolithic pillars that invariably front the porches of the caves, and are also found in the hypostyles and other areas of the interiors. Analyzing the evolution of pillar types at Ajanta, the chapter finds that all of the earliest pillars at the site, with a few understandable exceptions, conformed to the simple octagonal mode of those found in caves such as 16, 17, 6L and 4. By about 466 pillars with high square bases were developed for the local king's Cave 19, and at about the same time even more assertive examples were being cut in the porch and interior of the imperial Cave 1.

Keywords: Ajanta's Vakataka phase; imperial Cave; monolithic pillars



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