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Temple Patronage in Medieval South India

Tamil Nadu, in South India, is home to many Hindu temples, built in stone, whose walls are covered with inscriptions, most of which date from the ninth to thirteenth centuries. These inscriptions are in many cases records of gifts – of land, livestock, cash, precious metals – that were made to the temple to support various services, temple personnel, and additions to the temple complex. My presentation will consider the identities of the donors, and their motives and methods of patronage; the relationships established through gift-giving; and the question of how and why their gifts were recorded, engraved in stone.


Leslie Orr has been in the Department of Religions & Cultures at Concordia University Montréal since 1991. Her research interests are in the religious and social history of medieval Tamil Nadu, women in pre-colonial South Asia, devadasis, temple architecture, iconography and epigraphy, the interaction of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Islam, the history of South Indian sectarian movements, and colonial/missionary Indology.

Currently, she is researching within the projects "South Indian Inscriptions: Media, Messages, and Mobilizations" and, with Archana Venkatesan, Anna Seastrand, and CrispinBranfoot, "The Navatirupatis and Vaishnava temple-networks in South India." She is also the author and co-editor of several books in these fields.


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