Archives by Month: August, 2009

The pull of Pullamangai is so strong that we are not able to leave its premises soon. So we return with another splendid masterpiece captured spectacularly by Arvind once again. This is also a request for readers to spend a few more minutes on their temple visits to take photos with an inclination to share with us - a slight shift from the general pattern of posing in front of a sculpture to show people that you have been there and taking it for its artistic value. Thanks to the digital age, it costs nothing but a few minutes, a steady hand and some creative props.

Sri Arvind has done exactly that.


Hi, this is not an advertisement of handphones !! You will realise the need for this picture once you finish reading the post and seeing this remarkable sculpture.

pullamangai ardhanari

The ardhanari aspect of Shiva - as the half man half women ( maybe wrongly titled hermaphrodite in some sites), its signifies the larger concept of equality of man and women, of equal sharing of everything including the self - such a far reaching concept has been depicted beautifully in stone here.

There are umpteen references to this form in the thevaram verses, but chose this one adds the Lord’s bull mount as well.


when the good natured lady who has breasts like the lid of the casket is one half of his body.the god, Civaṉ who rides on a bull. as he entered into my mind wearing a young crescent which has no comparison and water which reached him. fever, cold fits, the ten vital airs of the body, excessive bile, acts are of such of a good nature as not to afflict us reaching us.
Translation: V.M.Subramanya Aiyar–Courtesy: French Institute of Pondichery / EFEO (2006)

The beauty of this composition is reflected in the masterly craft of the stone sculptor. Its indeed difficult to sculpt the majestic manly pose of shiva in stone, but to merge it with the feminine grace of Parvathi without loosing the form of the figure is indeed masterclass.

Lets look at the two halves separately, you can see how the masculine and feminine aspects have been accentuated to come up with a hybrid composite.

shiva portion
umai oru paagam

This expertise of the sculptor is seen this masterly understanding of human form and anatomy. Just see his hands sculpt the composite waistline.

the diff shown in the waist
the diff shown in the waist detail

The slightly erect shoulders of shiva while compared to the gently curved ones of Parvathi.

check out the shoulders
check out the shoulders detailing

Have highlighted his strokes so that you can better enjoy the superlative stonecraft.

The manly stance of shiva brought out by the slightly bent leg to balance the frame as against the sublime grace of the devi’s, in the background - The bull ( Nandhi) with its stance, the folds of its skin, wow.


But we are not finished yet, for the beauty of this sculpture is in its size.

size comparison

Truely, no canvas is too small for this master sculptor.

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Friends, today we are in for a feast. A real Sculptural feast..for we are to witness today the imagination and expertise of the chola sculptor running riot in Pullamangai - the famed Brahmapuriswarar Temple. The temple itself is treasure trove of stone art, but sadly forgotten by most. This is our humble attempt to showcase this magnificent edifice of Chola Art. Thanks to Satheesh and Arvind Venkataraman for taking the time to visit this temple, actually there was selfish motive behind sending them there, so that we may all drink in the sheer brilliance of that place - thanks to our two contributors again for patiently getting the lovely photos

Normally, i would start posts with long shots and then move closer. But today we are going to attempt the reverse for maximum effort. Once you read the full post, am sure you will understand what i mean.

We are going to see a series of four panels - hailing the birth of Muruga. Kumarasambhava and a few amazing Yaalis ( my personal favorites)

To start with will show you the yaalis.

the amazing warriors
warrior emering with his mount
action pose
even ladies
not just a mount he is a yaali rider
sadly broken
see the detailing of the crown

How to describe these in words. Such brilliance lends credence to the thought that these are not there just for ornamental value !!

Hmm, well that’s not the post, here is a lovely Vyaala as well.


Ok, I talked of the birth of Muruga and am showing you nothing of it….ok, here they come.

shiva n parvathi dance with rathi and manmadha watching

Here we see, the amazing dance of Shiva and Parvathi. Splendid depiction of the synchronised dancing. The masculine grace of Shiva and the feminine charm of Parvathi is a delight to watch. and watched they are by a resurrected Kama ( manmadha) and his wife Rathi.

wow, what a lively composition

The next panel we are going to see is a lovely depiction of Shiva wooing his consort.

shiva striking a pose for a shy parvathi

See the shy stance of the maiden and the stylish pose of Shiva.

the shy stance of Parvathi
the style of shiva - see the crossed legs

The next panel, shows Shiva embracing Parvathi.

shiva courting parvathi

This is a very beautiful depiction of the sense of fluid motion that a sculptor manages to bring into stone. Just watch the right hand of Shiva. He is shown with two right hands, one resting nonchalantly on nandhi behind him - but imagine for an instant that he is moving his hand towards parvathi - the next act - the moving arm is portrayed by the second right hand. Can you sense it

the fluid motion of shiva

And see the expression of Umai, tender love lorn shyness.

seated grace of parvathi

The sculptor is not finished yet, see the detailing on Nandhi.

the detailing of nandhi, the fold of skin on the net, the bent leg

and the two Ganas on the top and the lady attendant below

gana top left blowing a conch
lady assistant bottom left
the gana top right prasing shiva

Lastly we see shanmuga being born and held by the six mothers, Karthigai Pengal.


Not clear is it, lets explain a bit. A seated Shiva is shown lovingly holding one of the babies who is reaching out to his cheek. While the other five are being held by the mothers.

ladies holding babies

I am sure some of you are already commenting on the quality of the photographs and sculpture ( both positive and negative comments for sure)

Hang on, let me show you the reason

the bottom panels
the top panels

We are not finished yet

so much to see
closer look

Now for the long shot, it shows how easily we can miss these little bundles of beauty

what to see in pullamangai

Now, you know why i went reverse order for the zoom!!

By the way, did i mention ` little’

size comparison

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