Renovation, Disposal, and Conservation of Hindu Temples and Images: The Institutionalization of Creativity in South Indian and American Art Worlds

Samuel K. Parker


According to a widely accepted (but rarely followed) convention, Tamil temples are supposed to be renovated every 12 years. These practices commonly involve the destruction and replacement of older images. They may also be destroyed if damaged or ritually polluted, or if they are temporary icons made for a specific festival period. Ritualized practices of renovation and disposal indicate ways of seeing and knowing reality that are sometimes at odds with modernist perspectives informing museum conservation. Should the cosmological foundations of conservation be privileged over those of South Indian Hindus who practice the renovation and disposal of images?


South India; rituals; creativity; cosmology; conservation

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