History of Odissi Dance

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What was the primary cause of the decline of Odissi and other religious arts in the 12th century?

What did William Hunter observe in the Jagannath temple in Puri in 1872?

What did the British Raj do to Odissi and other Hindu temple dance arts?


  • The decline of Odissi and other religious arts in the 12th century was due to Muslim invasions.
  • During the Sultanate and Mughal era of India, the temple dancers were moved to entertain the Sultan's family and courts.
  • They became associated with concubinage to the nobility.
  • The Odissi dance likely expanded in the 17th century, under King Ramachandradeva's patronage.
  • During the British Raj, the officials of the colonial government ridiculed the temple traditions, while Christian missionaries launched a sustained attack on the moral outrage of sensuousness of Odissi and other Hindu temple dance arts.
  • In 1872, a British civil servant named William Hunter watched a performance at the Jagannath temple in Puri, then wrote, "Indecent ceremonies disgraced the ritual, and dancing girls with rolling eyes put the modest worshipper to the blush."


Explore the historical factors that influenced the decline and resurgence of Odissi dance, including the impact of Muslim invasions, the patronage of King Ramachandradeva, and the colonial government's attitude during the British Raj.

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