Panca-purusha, Pañca-puruṣa: 1 definition



Panca-purusha means something in Hinduism, Sanskrit. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

In Hinduism

Shilpashastra (iconography)

[«previous next»] — Panca-purusha in Shilpashastra glossary
Source: Google Books: The Theory of Citrasutras in Indian Painting

Pañca-puruṣa: The Viṣṇudharmottara Purāṇa, the Citralakṣaṇa of Nagnajit and the Samarāṅgaṇa Sūtradhāra explain the theory of proportion taking as examples five stereotypes of men or pañca-puruṣas.

The names of the five types of men are

  1. haṃsa,
  2. bhadra,
  3. mālavya,
  4. rucaka
  5. and śaśaka or śaśa.

The Citralakṣaṇa of Nagnajit gives different names for them:

  1. cakravartin,
  2. sādhu,
  3. mālavya,
  4. vyañjana
  5. and giridhara.

The earliest mention of the pañca-puruṣas can be traced back to the astrological texts, the Bṛhat Saṃhitā and the Sārāvalī of Kalyāṇavarman. Both astrological texts have a chapter entitled pañca-mahā-puruṣa-lakṣaṇa or ‘the characteristics of the give great men’ containing a detailed and concise description of the five men. Each of these five personages, according to these astrological texts, were said to be born due to the predominance of a particular planet.

In the Viṣṇudharmottara Purāṇa and the Citralakṣaṇa of Nagnajit, however, the five men paly the role of an artistic stereotype for portraying kings, gods, demons and so on. The text explains that gods are to be portrayed in the proportions of a haṃsa type; sages, gandharvas, daityas, dānavas, ministers, astrologers, vidyādharas and royal priests are to be drawn according to the bhadra mode of proportion; kinnaras, nāgas, rākṣasas and household women are to be portrayed in mālavya proportionl yakṣas, courtesans and vaiśyas in rucaka proportion; the śudras are in śaśaka proportions and piśācas, dwarfs, hunchbacks and pramathas are to be represented regardless of proportions and colours.

Shilpashastra book cover
context information

Shilpashastra (शिल्पशास्त्र, śilpaśāstra) represents the ancient Indian science (shastra) of creative arts (shilpa) such as sculpture, iconography and painting. Closely related to Vastushastra (architecture), they often share the same literature.

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