Its been a while since the celebrations of Rajini starrer Shivaji - the boss have died down. But i noticed one very interesting feature in the opening song of the movie.


Sorry again but i am not digressing from sculpture…been quite some while since we went to my favorite - mallai. So today we are going back to see a very unique sculpture, not many notice, few even realise that it is so. We cant fault them for so great is this panel - that is the largest open air bas relief sculpture in the world , hey hang on, I know regular readers are already saying that we carried a full length intro on the mallai penance panel - we also did some interesting comparisons of the test panel nearby as well and drew some conclusions on what is being depicted. However, today we are going to zoom in on a very very unique depiction and end of it you will see the links between the song and this sculpture.

When i meant zooming in, i did mean it literally. So, fasten your seat belts as we zoom in on the central figure ( ok the figure next to the central figure or inbetween the two central figures). Cant figure out who i am talking about ?

mallai penance1.jpg
mallai penance 2.jpg
mallai penance 3.jpg
mallai penance 4.jpg
mallai penance 5.jpg
mallai penance 6.jpg
belly lion face.jpg

Yes, today we are going to see this diminutive dwarf or goblin ( as many books call them) - faithful assistant of shiva, a very funny guy, right by the side of the boon giving Shiva. But did you notice something wierd in his belly!! Yes, its a tiger or lion face carved splendidly into his belly. Now do you get the reason for pulling in the song !

tiger belly in rajini song.jpg
tiger in the belly.jpg

Back to hardcore sculpture - What does this signify, is it just the Pallava sculptor showing off his prowess carelessly - are there similar depictions of such belly faces. Thanks to kathie, I have another, which we will see in part 2 of this post plus part 3 holds a new belly face as well.

Btw, this belly face is called a Urdhva Muha ( terror face !)
How many times some of us have been past this panel and not noticed this. Next time i am sure when you visit such places, you would stare at the belly of every statue!!

mallai penance 44.jpg
mallai penance suplm 2.jpg
mallai penance suplm3.jpg
mallai penance suplmn 4.jpg

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This entry was posted on Thursday, December 11th, 2008 at 11:19 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

11 Comments so far


increasingly zooming near- nice way of presentation :-)

December 11th, 2008 at 11:33

ஆங்கிலத்தில் ஒரு நல்ல வாக்கியம் உண்டு. - “Before you discover, you must explore” - நீ ஒரு விஷயத்தை கண்டுபிடிப்பதற்கு முன்னால் அதைப்பற்றி ஆராய வேண்டும்.

வரலாறு நமக்கு விட்டுச்சென்றுள்ள பொக்கிஷங்களை வெளிக் கொணர்வது மிகப் பெரிய கலை.இன்னும் சொல்லப் போனால் அது ஒரு புதிரை விடுவிப்பது போன்று சுவாரஸ்யமானது. வெறும் படங்கள் தானே எடுக்கிறோம் என்று விட்டுவிடாமல் தற்கால நிகழ்வுகள்,நாகரீகம்,மக்களின் ரசிக்கும் தன்மை ஆகியவற்றை வரலாற்று விஷயங்களோடு தொடர்பு படுத்தி ஒப்பிடும் உங்கள் திறமை பாராட்டுக்குரியது.

எல்லோரும் பார்க்கும் ஒரு சிற்பத்தை வேறு கோணத்தில் பார்க்கும் உங்களை எத்தனை பாராட்டினாலும் தகும் !

December 11th, 2008 at 11:54

Many thanks diva for your comment. Yes, the idea to take the viewer through a visual experience, transporting them to the site, making them relive the experience - so that it gets etched in their minds.


December 11th, 2008 at 12:02

திருநாவுக்கரசு - உங்கள் பெயர் போலவே உள்ளது உங்கள் சொல்லும்.

வெறுமனே சிற்பத்தை காட்டுவதை விட கொஞ்சம் இப்படி அப்படி மசாலா தெளித்து தருகிறேன் - கசப்பு மாத்திரைக்கு சக்கரை முலாம் பூசுவது போல , என்று சொல்ல வந்தேன்…ஆனால் சிற்பங்கள் என்றைக்கும் எனக்கு இனிக்கும் - பரவாயில்லை, இதனால் சிற்பம் பற்றி இன்னும் பலர் தெரிந்து ஆர்வம் கொண்டால் நம் பணிக்கு வெற்றி !!.


December 11th, 2008 at 12:07

Shankar does a lot of home work for his projects. Most likely he might have visited this place and got inspired. Very enjoyable article Vj.

December 11th, 2008 at 13:06

from Kollywood to ” kalai “..very interesting :)

December 11th, 2008 at 13:07

Great observation. :)

Did you really think shankar got his inspiration from here.?

Also, If I remember correctly the narashimar utsava murthy at parthasarathy temple (triplicane) has similar kind of lion face engraved not just on the belly, but at five places all over the body!!

Hoping to get a post on theory behind this soon…

December 12th, 2008 at 18:57

Hi prasad,

Only he can answer that question, but it was a nice different ( cant use the word unique now!!) style. similarly i liked the early sachin ad with the whole village sporting sachin masks.

Regarding the other legend you seek, i am not really sure. Will check and let you know


December 12th, 2008 at 22:06

Dear authors,
An eye opener and very interesting site i’ve so far come across, i have very limited knowledge on enjoying any sculptures, but now after interacting with my good friend (the author). i certainly will have a better look when coming across a sculpture.
I wish and hope contributions from well wishers come along for this phenominal task of reviving our wonderful art which i guess is indeed dying.
I have to say about the screen colour chosen which is very eye soothing and nice.
Great job friends……… Sundaram

December 26th, 2008 at 21:04

Thanks Capt Sundaram,

At last the endless hours of boring you have yielded fruit and you have visited my site


December 26th, 2008 at 21:07

என் பெயர் பொன்னுசாமி.நான் உங்களுடன் சேர்ந்து பணி புரிய ஆசைபடுகிறேன். என்னுடைய ஆசை, தமிழை பற்றியும் அதன் கலைகள் மற்றும் வீரம் நிறைந்த எம் முன்னோர்களை பற்றியும் தெரிந்து கொள்வதுதான்.

April 10th, 2010 at 9:24

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