Experiencing Elephanta

The Trimurti Sculpture at Elephanta

Presenting at Elephanta was a pretty intense experience for me. Researching something without having seen it in real life, though significant, can’t quite compare to seeing it in person. As I walked into the first cave I was overwhelmed at seeing how large the Trimurti sculpture actually was. In my mind it was much smaller, something tucked away in a corner that I would embarrassingly tell my classmates I couldn’t find. Yet as you walked in that was the first thing I saw. Maybe it’s because I spent weeks and weeks researching it that I have more of a connection to it, but I think Elephanta affected me most as I walked in. The size of everything, the power that each sculpture demanded, it all kind of hit me at once and it made being in India feel suddenly very very real. It was like, holy crap, I am in this different country, on an island, in this ancient cave that I have been studying all semester. It’s hard to convey what I felt with words, and I’m still trying to figure it out myself. I am by no means an expert on art history, yet I don’t think you need to be to get something out of these caves. Though the site had a lot of meaning for me having studied it all semester, I think you could walk into any of these sites with little knowledge about the history and still appreciate the artistry behind it, the fact that real life breathing human bodies built these spectacular sculptures. That being said I think context is important and should not be ignored, and I am pretty satisfied with how our class allowed me to place a lot of these sites in a larger framework.

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