Medieval Indian temple sculptures provide a glimpse into the social life of those days, reflecting various aspects of society, culture, and religious beliefs in following ways.
- Depictions of deities: The sculptures often represent various Hindu gods and goddesses, reflecting their religious and social significance. For instance, the Lingaraja temple and the Konarak temple in Orissa showcase exquisite sculptures of deities.
- Scenes of everyday life: The sculptures depict the intricacies of daily life, including agricultural activities, women engaged in household chores, and people cooking and eating. Example- The Mukteshvara temple in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, which is adorned with beautiful female sculptures.
- Diverse representation: The people depicted in these sculptures come from all walks of life, from noblemen and warriors to commoners, showcasing the social diversity of the time.
- Erotic sentiment: The presence of erotic sculptures in temples, such as those in Khajuraho, reflects the importance of shringara rasa (the sentiment of erotic love) in ancient Indian literature and fine arts.
- Artistic styles: The evolution of artistic styles in temple sculptures, such as the transition from classical simplicity to more ornate and decorative forms, reflects the changing tastes and preferences of the society. Example – The large relief at Mahabalipuram, which showcases elegant 7th-century sculptures.
- Regional variations: The distinct regional styles in temple sculptures, such as those found in the temples of Thanjavur, Gangaikondacholapuram, Darasuram, and Tribhuvanam in southern India, showcase the diverse artistic traditions across the country.
Thus the Medieval Indian temple sculptures provide a valuable resource for understanding the social life of the time, offering a rich tapestry of depictions that encompass deities, everyday activities, diverse representations, artistic styles, and regional variations.