Henri Schildt

The Māṭakkōvil Shrine Type in Kerala

This paper presents two Kerala māṭa-k-kōvil-type shrines: the Māṭattilappan shrine of the Peruvanam Śiva Mahādēvan temple (District Trichur) and the Śiva temple of Paṟampantali (near Guruvayoor, District Trichur), both dating to the late 11th or early 12th century. The essentials of the two structures of a square plan are a high monolithic ground floor provided with a monumental stair before the western first-floor entrance. The first-floor square sanctum houses a Śiva Liṅga. The second and third floors are blind
square and octagonal chambers without entrances, forming in both cases a sequence from the square plan to the octagonal. In the Kerala temple architecture, the māṭa-k-kōvil shrine appears to be a shrine type for a Śiva Liṅga. Its origin is in Tamilnadu where it can also house images of Viṣṇu. The Malayalam term māṭa-k-kōvil consists of two parts: the māṭam, a storied house and the kōvil a temple. In the paper, the three examples of Kerala māṭa-k-kōvils from central Kerala are compared to six Tamil māṭa-k-kōvils in
Tirunelveli District.

Dr. Henri Schildt is currently an Honorary Fellow in The Center For South Asia in the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is also an Associate Professor in the Department of World Cultures, University of Helsinki (Finland). He is running a project titled “Peruvanam Śiva Mahādēva Temple” financed by Academy of Finland.