Religiöse Reliefs in Brunnen ( dhārā, hiti) des Kathmandutales
Gail, Adalbert J. (1997) Religiöse Reliefs in Brunnen ( dhārā, hiti) des Kathmandutales. Annali dell’Università degli Studi di Napoli “L’Orientale”. Rivista del Dipartimento di Studi Asiatici e del Dipartimento di Studi e Ricerche su Africa e Paesi Arabi, 1997 (57 (3-4)). pp. 357-374. ISSN 0393-3180
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One of the most remarkable features of the open air museum ‘kathmandu Valley’ are fountains (Skt.: dhārā; New.: hiti), responsible for public water supply. In the hands of skilful artisans most of them became impressive pieces of architecture and art. Natural water veins, running just below earth level, were led by way of brick pipes into decorated spouts pouring water into more or less spacious stone-paved enclosures of various shapes: square, rectangular, cross- or star-shaped. Access to the larger ones is allowed by more than one staircases leading down to the bottom. They not only function as public laundry and bathroom, but also as areas of social gathering. Unlike Indian fountains, in particular step-wells ( vāpī), Nepalese hitis were embellished with religious reliefs, thus being turned into places of worship. As water is the main source of life and fertility, one is grateful to the gods who provide living beings with that precious stuff. Beneath or around the spouts, which are often makara- shaped, one regularly finds depictions of water gods or of gods having to do with water: nāgas, Bhagīratha (bringing Gaingā from heaven), Viṣṇu Balarā Amoghasiddhi (with nāgaphaṇa). Moreover, all the representatives of the Hindu and Buddhist pantheon can be present on hiti walls. As traditional Hindu and Buddhist temples are made of bricks and timber and include wood-carvings, hitis are a mai source for studying Nepalese stone sculpture. This has been done in the present article, partly by carefully describing the sculptural equipment of outstanding fountains( for example, Alkohiti and Kontihiti in Patan), partly analysing particular iconographic formulas such as the popular Umāmaheśvaramūrti. In some cases hitis provide unusual or even unique iconographic inventions such as the Śiva-Sūrya in Alkohiti and the Hari-Hari_Harivāhana-saśakti-Lokeśvara in Chakbalohanhiti, both in Patan, which attest to that Hindu-Buddhist osmosis which is a signum of Nepalese history and imagery.
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