- September 17, 2021
- Posted by: admin1
- Category: DPN Topics
Subject – Art and Culture
Context – Gupta era temple in Etah has put focus back on shankhalipi script
- Last week, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) discovered remains of an ancient temple dating back to the Gupta period (5th century) in a village in Uttar Pradesh’s Etah district.
- The stairs of the temple had ‘shankhalipi’ inscriptions, which were deciphered by the archaeologists as saying, ‘Sri Mahendraditya’, the title of Kumaragupta I of the Gupta dynasty.
- The discovery becomes significant since only two other structural temples from the Gupta age have been found so far — Dashavatara Temple (Deogarh) and Bhitargaon Temple (Kanpur Dehat).
- In the 5th century, Kumaragupta I ruled for 40 years over north-central India. The Guptas were the first to build structural temples, distinctly different from the ancient rock-cut temples.
- Shankhalipi or “shell-script” is a term used by scholars to describe ornate spiral characters assumed to be Brahmi derivatives that look like conch shells or shankhas.
- They are found in inscriptions across north-central India and date to between the 4th and 8th centuries.
- A similar inscription was found on the back of a stone horse sculpture from that period that is at present in the State Museum at Lucknow.
- Both Shankhalipi and Brahmi are stylised scripts used primarily for names and signatures. The inscriptions consist of a small number of characters, suggesting that the shell inscriptions are names or auspicious symbols or a combination of the two.
- The script was discovered in 1836 on a brass trident in Uttarakhand’s Barahat by English scholar James Prinsep, who was the founding editor of the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal.
- Prominent sites with shell inscriptions include the Mundeshwari Temple in Bihar, the Udayagiri Caves in Madhya Pradesh, Mansar in Maharashtra and some of the cave sites of Gujarat and Maharashtra. In fact, shell inscriptions are also reported in Indonesia’s Java and Borneo.
- Scholars have tried to decipher shell script but have not been successful.
- Shankhalipi is found to be engraved on temple pillars, columns and rock surfaces. No such inscriptions with dates or numbers have been reported so far even as their chronology can be determined by the objects on which they are written.