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A category of Sanskrit texts, or manuals, dealing with such arts/crafts (śilpas) as iconography, and the production of paintings and sculptures, particularly of temple mūrtis. More broadly it also covers aesthetics, planning and architecture, although the latter is also dealt with in Vāstuśāstra, resulting in no clear boundary between the two types of text. Śilpaśāstras have been produced from at least as early as the Gupta period (c.320 ce–c.6th century ce), reflecting diverse traditions across the subcontinent. Influential works of this kind include the Aparājitapṛcchā (western India), the Mayaśāstra (southern), the Tantrasamuccaya (southwestern), and the pan-Indian Mayamata. Produced by brahmins rather than craftsmen, they appear more concerned with theory and tradition—the symbolic meaning and ritual significance of the buildings and their contents—than with practical considerations and particular blueprints.

Subjects: Hinduism.

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