This well-produced, well-conceived, and lavishly illustrated study of garlands and gateways as parts of the structure and decorative ornamentation of architecture in South and Southeast Asia is dedicated to Madhusudan Amilal Dhaky, under whose supervision a preliminary version was prepared as a doctoral thesis at the National Museum Institute (NMI), New Delhi. The author completed the manuscript while on a postdoctoral fellowship in Berlin. She follows that eminent scholar's methodological model, widely surveying existing monuments and coordinating inscriptional, literary, and textual references to establish an appropriate terminology and classification for an architectural and decorative element of great proliferation and importance in southern Asia. Its use and evolution spans more than 2,000 years. Dhaky set a pattern for this type of rigorous analysis of elements of South Asian architecture in his studies The Ceilings in the Temples of Gujarat (coauthored with J. M. Nanavati, 1963);1 The Indian Temple Forms in Karṇāṭa Inscriptions and Architecture (1977);2 and most recently, The Indian Temple Traceries (2005).3
Leaf garlands are ritually hung across doorways today, temporary toraṇas are constructed to welcome godlike politicians, and torii gates lead up to Shinto shrines in Japan. Such gateways and garlands mark a progression to "more sacred" ground (not "profane to sacred"): toward a stupa or Buddha himself; into a sacred compound, temple entry, sanctum doorway; as frame for the enshrined image.