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Ayrtam  

B. Ya. Stavisky

[Aïrtam]

Site in Uzbekistan, on the right bank of the Amu River, 18 km east of Termez. In 1932 the accidental discovery of a stone relief with the busts of three musicians against a background of acanthus leaves (see Central Asia, §I, 3, (ii), (a)) led the following year to the excavation by M. Ye. Masson of a further seven reliefs of the same type. In the 1960s–70s excavations by G. A. Pugachenkova and B. A. Turgunov revealed a settlement that dated from shortly before the time of Christ and flourished during the Kushana period (1st–4th century ad), when it formed an oasis extending 2.5–3.0 km along the river bank without planned layout or defensive wall. Several archaeological sites have been uncovered in the area of the settlement. The largest mound, which occupied the western part of the site, was enclosed by a wall and was probably a fortified citadel or acropolis. Excavations in ...

Article

R. Nagaswamy

[Cidambara, Chirrambalam (Skt and Tamil: ‘Consciousness as space’)]

Temple site in Tamil Nadu, India, sacred to Shiva in his form as Nataraja, the Cosmic Dancer. The Nataraja temple occupies an area of about 16 ha and consists of a complex series of walled enclosures containing shrines, halls and gateways built between the 12th and 20th centuries. The temple’s origin is ascribed to the sages Vyagrapada and Patanjali, and it has become associated with Appar and other southern saints. The Chola kings, from whose time the earliest surviving portions belong, were devoted to Nataraja and held their coronation ceremonies in the precinct. The active religious and artistic life of Chidambaram continues to the present day.

At the centre of the Nataraja complex are the Chid Sabha and Kanaka Sabha, two small wooden buildings with hipped gable roofs sheathed in copper. While based on earlier prototypes, these structures probably date to the 17th century. Shiva is worshipped here as Nataraja and as the ...