Belur Chennakeshava Temple: Tribhangi

Tribhangi - A davane playing shilābālike with the tribhanga pose mounted on a pillar of the Chennakeshava Temple in Belur, Karnataka

Tribhangi – A davane playing Nātya Sundari with the Tribhanga stance

Tribangi – A davane playing Nātya Sundari
This exquisitely carved sculpture captures the details of a complicated dance move, known as Tribhanga, commonly performed in Indian classical dances, such as the Odissi, Bharatanātyam, and Kathakali. Described in the Nātya Shāstra (ancient Indian text on dance) and Shilpa Shāstras (ancient Indian texts on crafts), Tribhanga refers to a pose with three bends in the body (typically, knee, waist, and neck). Because of this dance move, the popular name for this stunningly beautiful sculpture is Tribhangi.

As you can see, Tribhangi has elegantly curved her body by bending her knee, waist, and neck to give her a beautiful S-like shape. The sculptor has captured this dance pose perfectly with great details.

Tribhangi is dancing while playing the davane – a drum-like musical instrument – held gracefully above her head. She is beating the drum-head with her right hand while holding the davane steady with the left. As part of the dance move, she has twisted her well-proportioned body and gracefully lifted her left leg. As you can see, this move is difficult to perform, and capturing it perfectly in stone requires extraordinary sculpting skills.

Tribhangi is one of the 38 small sculptures, known as bracket figures, mounted on the pillars attached to the exterior wall surrounding the Navaranga, a covered hall in front of the garbhagriha (inner sanctum). Each sculpture is attached to a bracket placed at an angle just below the eves, with its base mounted on a pedestal attached to a pillar slightly below its capital.

Check the Navaraga Layout page for the locations of the bracket figures. In this layout, Tribhangi is figure number 8, i.e., mounted on the middle pillar attached to the fourth section (S4) on the exterior wall surrounding the Navaranga on the south side.

Read more about this and other bracket figures at Belur Chennakeshava Temple: Bracket Figures.

Other Shilābālikes
Darpana Sundari, Sukha Bhasini, Nātya Sundari, Gāna Sundari, Kesha Sundari, Tribhangi, Nagna Sundari, Kapāla Durga, Koravanji, Nātya Mohini, Betegārthi

Male Bracket Figures
Flute playing male musician
Narthaka – Davane playing male dancer
Davane playing male musician

Hoysala Temples:
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Bracket Figures
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Navaranga
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Garbhagriha Outer Wall
Kappe Chennigaraya Shrine
Somanathapura Keshava Temple
Badami Chalukya Temples:
Badami, Cave – 1, Cave – 2, Cave – 3, Cave – 4
Durga Temple at Aihole

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