Manuscript Evidence Of Orissi Dance


From 15th century onwards, it is observed by scholars, that no architectural activity took place. But on the other hand, the artists canalised into writing of manuscripts, the illustrations of manuscripts and paitings on the walls of temples. Some of these manuscripts deal distinctively only with dance.

Abhinaya Chandrika

Abhinaya Chandrika written by Maheshvara Mahapatra is a detailed study of the various movements of the feet, hands, the standing postures, the movement and the dance reperoire. It also includes illustrations of the Karanăs mentioned in NătyaShăstra.


Manuscript Shilpaprakăsha is among those illustrated manuscripts which deals with the Orissan architecture and sculpture as well as the figures of dance. In this one finds a elaborate analysis of the manner in which the salabhanjikăs or the feminine figures caleed the alasa kanyas are carved in the temple. The illustrations of Shilpaprakăsha reinforces the evidence of sculpture in temples.

Jain Manuscripts

A rather an unexpested source, the Jain Manuscripts, especially the Kalpasutra and Kalkacharya Kathăs show traces of Orissan dance style although they were being executed in Gujarat. The marginal figures of dancers show women in poses and movements similar to the distinctive style of Orissa. Eg in one of the famous illustrated Jain Manuscript called the Devasanpada Kalpasutra (1501, Jamnagar), there is depiction of the samapada, the tribhangi and the chuaka.
This shows that there was a great deal of mobility between east and west and many migrations took place. According to some historians, there were groups of dancers who were brought to Puri from Gujarat and also from Andhra.