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Archives by Month: August, 2008

Today we are going to look at some unique pillars from the amazing Srirangam temple. The temple is the foremost among temples for Vaishnavites and has been the centre of the spiritual movement of Lord Vishnu ‘ The Preserver’. The temple has various legends associated it with and for viewers who are interested to read more, below site has an excellent account.

http://www.thiruvarangam.com/history.html

The temple has such has undergone many restorations and has been the beneficiary of many a generous endowment. One such later addition is the pillared hall - an artistic wonder and a treasure trove of intricate stone work.

Lets analyse just two of these splendid pillars. The entire composition of these pillars is stupendous with every inch of space covered with miniature sculptures..such intricate work on this scale and complexity..with no margin for error in the hardest stone is a living tribute to the mastery of the craftsmen. We would look at these in more detail in subsequent posts.

sri rangam ranganathswamy pillar detail1.JPG
sri rangam ranganathswamy pillar detail212.JPG
sri rangam ranganathswamy pillar detail213.JPG

The main plot in the two pillars is what we are to see in this post. Take a minute to drink in the beauty of these two pillars.

The artist has chosen two widely varying themes for these two adjacent pillars. The first one is obviously a hunting scene and shows a mounted hunter ( what a wonderful despiction of a rearing horse ..and its splaying hooves)…he is spearing a leopard ( watch the spear piercing the jaw and coming out of the side

sri rangam ranganathswamy pillar detail11.JPG
sri rangam ranganathswamy pillar detail111.JPG

….a foot soldier and his assistant are shown under the rider….the foot soldier is thrusting his broad sword into the animal ( it too has been sculpted to pierce the flesh and exit in the back …the foot soldier is shown having a shield …to see more clearly you got to switch to the other side of the pillar, where another foot soldier is thrusting his sword into the leopard….what a splendid work in stone with each trust passing through and exiting the other side.

The second pillar is a puzzle

sri rangam ranganathswamy pillar detail2.JPG

it shows well built man carrying a lady on his broad shoulders …..but surprisingly he is being stabbed from behind in his thigh…what does this depict….we need to go closer to the pillar to study this….so wait for next post….

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Darasuram forms the pinnacle of Chola art, a must visit in the golden triangle of middle chola art, Tanjore, Gangai Konda Cholapuram and Darasuram.

What you are seeing is a staircase leading to the hall,the humble handrail has been transformed into a splendid interplay of beautiful mythical animals – a delightful concoction of animal figurines ,called yaazhis ,..mythical beasts of gigantic proportions ,. Bulging eyes, horns, claws ,..the artist imagination is running riot here,.due to predominance of the elephant motif here, we will call it an elephant yaazhi which is set off at the bottom by his aquatic counterpart ,.a fish yaazhi,.if you watch closely you can spot the solider on top of the elephant yaazhi complete with as assortment of arms ..sword and shield ..and another one emerging from the mouth of fish yaazhi below!!

darasuram original sculpture.jpg
darasuram wrong piece inserted.jpg
darasuram wrong piece detail.jpg

We are now looking at a similar flight of stairs ..but this has been crudely repaired by the powers to be !! you can compare the two side and by side and notice that the centre block just under the Yaazhi doesn’t fit.. its been crudely set into the composition, anyway lets look at what is depicted there,looks like some form of martial school, two people jesting in sport and another pair sparring with swords, in between the two pairs is the master..overseeing her wards,yes all are women fighters !!!

 

Thanks to my young friend Shriram, got better pictures of the rail and inlay panel.

the full handrail.jpg
the inset panel.jpg

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