Unvailing the Symbolic Meaning of Terracotta Plaques From Pilak Monastery, Tripura, India

Unvailing the Symbolic Meaning of Terracotta Plaques From Pilak Monastery, Tripura, India

Ruma Karmakar (College of Art and Design, Kolkata, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2603-3.ch004
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Tripura, one of the smallest states of India, is very famous to the people of India because of its own hidden treasures and the atmospheric beauty of nature. Various temple architecture, stone and metal sculptures which have been scattered all over the state made her historically significant, but due to proper expose it still remains in darkness. Globalization and emergence of technology nowadays vastly helps tour lovers to choose their destinations. Observing the present scenario, in this chapter the researcher explores and introduces the richness and the hidden wealth of history of Tripura through a bird's eye view of the Pilak Monastery to the outer world.
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‘Tripura’ is a very small state of north east India, crowned with the capital Agartala. Geographically from three sides she is bordered by Bangladesh, mainly the districts of Sylhet, Comilla, Noakhali & Chittagong hills tracts share the same boundary with Tripura on north, west, south, and south east direction. Hence, at the east she is surrounded respectively by the Cacher district of Assam and state Mizoram hill tracts.

Figure 1.

Map of Tripura


Though Tripura is denotes as a very small state, but still she is being bestowed with the virgin beauty of nature, bamboo works, very unique and elegant loom textiles and extremely indigenous rock cuts and stone images that made her very special at the history of Indian art. Apart that, the orange garden of Jampui hills, dry fish, tea and coffee garden of various parts of Tripura are also in domain.

Again, the current study that denotes ‘Pilak’ is a very small village from south Tripura, Jolaibari, Belonia district. The approximate distance of Pilak from Agartala is 110 km. This village came to light few years back due to the excavated bronze and stone sculptures, half ruined architectures and the other essential practicable objects which just about belongs to the civilisation of 6th to 12th c ad.

Figure 2.

Symbol of wheel


Background Of The Study

Geographically Pilak is bordered by the vast forest cover, picturesque hillocks of Muhuripur and Tekka tulsi in one side, on the other she is surrounded by water of stream Silachari and the river Muhuri, which flow down towards the hill tracts of Chittagong, Bangladesh. Apart that, a small stream named ‘Pilakchara’ too flows down across the plain land of Pilak. The whole land of Pilak has been distributed into three major localities. As for east, west, and central Pilak. They again have been divided into some major sub places depending on the site of excavation. These are Shyam sundar asram tilla (Here it is noteworthy that ‘tilla’ is basically small mound area of rural hilly area. This area is completely a greenly area covered with paddy field at west Pilak.), Thakurani tilla (A place again at west Pilak, known as ancient Pilak market area. Now the Navagraha temple has been excavated here.), Club tilla (A place from east Pilak which is another important excavated site from where the sculpture of Ganesha has been excavated), Balir pather, Basudebbari, Sagar dheba

Though the modern geographical location of ‘Pilak’ is under the state of Tripura, but according to historical evidences she was denoted as the major indifferent part of ‘Samatata’ provinces of ancient Bengal. Its exact boundaries are not well defined yet, but it is assumed that Vanga, Harikela, Pundravardhana, were the contemporary major provinces of ‘Samatata’ of that period. According to historians ‘Samatata’ was form, at the trans Meghna tract of the eastern part of Tripura hills and the Comilla Noakhalli plains which stretches towards Sylhet border in the north & to the bay of Bengal in the south.

The place ‘Samatata’ was under the ruling power of different rulers of various dynasties like ‘Chandra’, ‘Khadga’, ‘Deva’ and ‘Pala”, with the five successive capitals or ‘jayaskandavara’ from the 6th to 13th c ad. They are respectively Kripura, Karmantovasaka, Devaparvata, Vasantapura, and Pattikera. Though, two other rulers’ names also have been found from here. They are respectively Sasanko & Vainogupto. Here it is noteworthy that the major sources of information regarding digging at the history of ancient ‘Pilak’ are the inscriptions found from modern Bangladesh and coins found from Bangladesh and ‘Pilak’. Among the epigraphically record Asrafpur copper plate from Rajaraja (Dacca district Bengal), The Asrafpur copper plate of Deva khadga, the Deolbadi sarvani image inscription of Tippera district, ‘paschim bhag copper plate of Srchandra, Betka Paikpada vasudeva image inscription of Govindachandra, Rampal copper plate inscription of Srichandra, Moinamoti copperplate inscription of Anandadeva, the Calcutta Asiatic society plate of BahavadevaI are worth mentioning here.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Plaque: a small rectangular or square-shaped slab generally used to decorate the outer surface of architecture.

Monastery: a house or a residential complex where a special section of religious people pass their daily life as well as carry out their several communal activities in their own way.

Terracotta: Terracotta is a very ancient but popular technique of art.

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