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id sigradi2006_e185d
authors Geva, Anat and Mukherji, Anuradha
year 2006
title The Holy Darkness: A Study of Light in Brihadeshvara Hindu Temple, in Tanjore, Tamilnadu, India (1010 AD)
source SIGraDi 2006 - [Proceedings of the 10th Iberoamerican Congress of Digital Graphics] Santiago de Chile - Chile 21-23 November 2006, pp. 425-428
summary The study investigates how religious principles govern the treatment of light/darkness in sacred monument. Specifically, a digitized daylight simulation is used in the analysis of Brihadeshvara Hindu Temple, built in 1010 AD in Tanjore, Tamilnadu, India. This sacred monument, listed as one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites, is an intriguing case study since the treatment of the 'holy light' in the temple is the treatment of the 'holy darkness'.In spite of the importance given to sun in ancient Hindu scriptures, natural light was used very sparsely in Hindu temples. According to Hindu religious belief, when a worshipper is in the presence of the divine, there should be nothing to distract his/her senses (including vision). Therefore, the innermost sanctum is shrouded in total darkness and the progression into the temple is a ritual movement where the devotee goes through the dynamic experience of the darkening spaces of the temple before reaching the dark sacred chamber (see Fig.1). The dictation of the Hindu faith to create this spiritual procession toward the 'holy darkness' is examined in the historic Brihadeshvara Temple by using Lightscape -- computerized lighting simulation software. To run the program, a 3-D CAD surface model of the temple was created and imported into Lightscape. Then the model was assigned materials and its openings and lighting systems were defined. The simulations were run on four interior horizontal (floor) and vertical (walls) surfaces, along four spaces of the procession in the temple. The simulation targeted three time frames: sunrise, sunset and at high noon on March 21st (the equinox). The location of Tanjore, India was used for light conditions. The Lightscape simulations used the process of radiosity to generate single frame daylight renderings along with light analysis of each surface. A lighting animation was then produced in Quick Time.The results of this analysis demonstrate that the average illumination values for specific surfaces of the temple along the procession sequence correspond to the schematic expectation depicted in Figure 1, i.e., a progressively decreased luminance towards the dark innermost chamber. Furthermore, the simulated values were compared to the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) standards, which recommend ranges of luminance for specific visual tasks and areas. The comparisons showed that the average luminance in the temple, from the illuminated entrance in the east to the darker chamber in the west, is lower than the IES standards for 'public places with dark surroundings' for 'short temporary visits'. Finally, a morphological analysis of the temple along accepted daylight design guidelines corroborated the previous findings. The multi-method investigation of the relationship of light and darkness, light and objects, and the designated light quality in the Brihadeshvara Temple demonstrates the strong influence of the specific dictum of Hinduism on the light/darkness treatment in the temple. The paper concludes that digitized media such as computerized daylight simulations can examine the significance of light/darkness in sacred monuments as a spiritual experience. This quantitative investigation can augment the qualitative studies in the field of historic sacred architecture.
series SIGRADI
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Details Citation Select
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