Home > Uncategorized > Sacred architecture: India v middle east

Sacred architecture: India v middle east

In my last post I emphasised the contribution of the ‘Indian’ as opposed to the ‘Middle East’ traditions of religious architecture, and concluded there was still someting unique about the Gothic invention.

Having said that, one shouldn’t understate the uniqueness of the Indian tradition. It’s not just the continuity, and the scale of the resulting achievement, in which I include Borobodur, Angkor Wat and Todaiji: they are as much rooted in the Indian tradition as Chartres or the Sagrada Familia are in the middle eastern one. At the root of the tradition is a *theory* of sacredness-as-architecture which may once have existed in the west but which has been destroyed by the disjunctures in which text-based monotheisms replaced older traditions. India still has it: it’s ultimately Vedic, for which read ancient, in origin; it’s encoded in elaborated in both theory and pracitcal guidance, some of it relatively new, it encodes the idea – unbeatabably powerful from the point of view of making a sacred architecture – that the form of the structure  may itself be sacred, and richly encoded with meaning.

If I had to boil the two architectural traditions down to two words, I’d say the western/Middle Eastern was about ‘structure’ and the Indian was about ‘form’, symbolic form.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Charmian Cannon
    November 30, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    How do you do it Jonky? Ihope some of all this is going in the book or a new expanded version you develop afterwards! Are you getting some followers? I’m learnng a lot.

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