The present work discusses in depth the subject of toranas (arched portals or festoons) in the ancient and medieval architecture of South- and South-east Asia, with special emphasis on Indian representations. Their antiquity and rationale; their continued presence in association with stupas, caves, temples, mosques, cities, forts, and palaces; their myriad forms and transformations; and their aesthetic and symbolic relationship to the structure in question are analyzed stage-by-stage in this book. The rich corpus of toranas included here has been critically and comparatively analyzed in relation to traditional practice, as well as in the light of the medieval architectural treatises, historical records, and other literary sources. The approach is ‘micro’ in the sense of being focused on a specific architectural element but ‘macro’ in its regional and temporal span. In addition, the exposition reveals the grammar as well as the manifold visual formulations of the torana as representative of the basic principles of traditional Indian architectural ornament: integral to the structure, functionally apt, aesthetically significant, and visually evocative, with sound and sophisticated design principles.
The text is richly illustrated, bringing together material scattered over several well-known as well as remote sites, museums, and archival collections. Whereas a major part of this book details the journey of the torana in ancient and medieval India, the section on early beginnings also includes references from Pakistan and Afghanistan, and the final chapter surveys, with a view to compare, parallel yet distinct expressions in Cambodia, Thailand, Champa, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.