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Archive for March 31st, 2009


The core of this post is based on a interview that Satheesh conducted with Sri K.P.Umapathy Acharya - hereditary achitect and sculptor. I have supported it with pictures from Shriram,Gokul, graphic work by Ashok and closeups of the individual frames during my recent trip to mallai.

We would have passed this sculpture panel many times ( The earlier post)and each time a new awareness dawns on you. So too is this post

Lets first see the panel as a whole.

Mallai Varaha panel

We have already seen a detailed post of this core theme,so will skip that part. Now, to add some highlights ( thanks to Ashok)

varahaPanel(hands)2

Can you now understand the crux of this post. - we are going to see how the Pallava sculpture has excelled in his portrayal of a multitude of hand and leg postures, am also trying to compare these with Angkorian ( cambodia - thanks to photos from Sri Gokul / sin - ardent cricket fan and best scorer in Singapore league) panel - to highlight why the Pallava sculptor is par excellence.

Inorder to better understand these, have taken individual exposures of the poses - so please take your time to see the indexed version and then proceed to see the individual items.

varahaPanel(hands) index
index 1
index 2
index 3
index 4
index 5
index 6
index 6 closeup
index 7
index 8
index 9
index 10
index 11
index 12
index 13
index 14
index 15

Notice how each of the individual carvings are unique, ie not of the same size, yet every aspect of proportion is maintained for the individual sculpture. No two hands are the same, not only posture wise but also in dimensions.

index 14
index 15

At first glance we tend to miss out the significance of the last two photos.Well you might ask, why bring in the legs suddenly into the discussion. Let me throw in a few snaps of the Angkorian Apsara / dancers and see if you get a hint.

agkorian relief sculpture
angkorian sculpture

No, ok, now do you get it

the depiction of the feet of an angkorian sculpture
the depiction of the feet of angkorian panel

See how the Pallava craftsmen has depicted the feet, especially of the person who is sculpted as facing into the wall. Simply mind blowing.

The depiction of the feet both facing to one side - would be akin to a beginner’s attempt at sketching someone in straight profile. You have difficulty in showing the depth in a one dimensional sketch. But a bas relief is almost a 3 dimensional medium ( well 2 1/2 - 3D would be a full sculpture like an idol or statue). But the Angorian style is more representative of a craftsmen moving from a uni dimensional sketch into sculpture, while the Pallava craftsmen centuries before had already mastered this.

Some more pictures to illustrate the intricacies of the panel for your viewing pleasure.

boomadevi's upper garment fallen loose
varaha eye and snout
varaha right leg on naga hood
varaha tusk


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