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Archive for September 10th, 2009


How much would you give in for your better half ? Sorry to disappoint you, but we are still talking sculpture here.

We had seen in the previous post how the Ardhanari image evolved including and highlighting stylistic elements of the male and female portions and the necessity of the sculptor to bring in the bull ( Nandhi) to balance the image. We stopped with stone sculptures with a promise to bring similar study into metal/bronze images.

Chola bronzes are really stunning creations of sublime beauty. The lure of such pieces are so great that once you are caught in their timeless charm, its difficult not to fall in love with them. So how better to start this discussion on the evolution of Ardhanari form from stone to metal, but to showcase a stunning bronze - not any bronze but a very very special bronze. ( collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio)

Once again a few line drawings ( tracings) to take you through the stylistic aspects

A closeup first.

ardhanari bronze

Some interesting questions. Note Shiva’s side has two hands while Umai has only one. Read somewhere that its to show the male dominance - how ridiculous. This entire concept is based on showcasing the equality of the two sexes! Why then are the two hands for Shiva? Well lets step a bit back and see the larger picture

ardhanari bronze 2

The exaggerated curve of the waist for Umai , the tribanga ( triple flexion) all follow the styling in stone to the T. ( lets compare the two)

ardhanarai vridhachalam
ardhanari bronze 2

Notice the splendid work on Umai’s hands. Picture her delicate fingers gently holding a lotus by its stalk! Compare it with Shiva’s hand holding the Ax. They balance out each other in terms of composition. So now to our pet theory.

Lets for a second take out the Bull and the additional hand and see the image for arguments sake.

ardhanari bronze without nandhi

You can see the torso leaning awkardly to the right, for want of a better example - in a crowded bus, imagine you reaching out to the conductor to buy a ticket - thats the pose. Jokes, apart, is shiva giving into Parvathi’s might or is Parvathi being swayed / pulled by shiva? Anyway, the second hand of Shiva resting on the bull is purely to balance the tilt.

Arvind raised an interesting question. The flexing of shiva’s leg.

Quote: “does the bent knees and the posture of the lower limbs on the male side indicate a longer limb (as much as it does muscular limb, which is pronounced in certain sculptures and visually identifiable).
Given the bend of the limb and also the lean of the hip, though I get a feel of longer limb on the male side”

Welcome viewers views on this. We will study this in similar bronze sculptures of simple ( not composite ) forms in an other post.

Hey, but this was introduced as no ordinary bronze. Whats so special about this bronze?

ardhanari bronze3
chola bronze

Its an unique style - a composite icon formed with half a male, half a female, a bull all framed into a Trident. Wow!! If this is not poetry, what is!!!

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