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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12 Comments so far


கொடியிடையோடு, விடையோடு, சித்தம் கலங்க வைக்கும் சிற்ப விந்தைகள், அதன் ஆக்கத்தை அறிய வைக்கும் சிறந்த சிந்தனைகள்!

கலையழகு அற்புதம்! அதை எடுத்துக் காட்டும் தங்கள் எண்ணமும் அற்புதம்!

September 10th, 2009 at 15:44

//அதனால் ஒருவேளை ஆண் பெண் இணைக்கும் பொது ஆணின் கால் பெண்ணின் காலை விட பெரியதாக காட்டுவதற்காகவா ? அல்லது இடையை வளைத்தனால் காலை மடிக்க வேண்டயுள்ளதா ?//
ஆணின் கால் பெண்ணின் காலைவிட நீளமாய் இருந்திருக்குமோ? வளைத்தால்/மடித்தால் அது தெரியாது என்பதாலா?? அடுத்த ஆய்வுப் பதிவுக்குக் காத்திருக்கேன்.

September 10th, 2009 at 15:46

Arthanareeswar - A great theory, which was given by India to all over the world. Any number of research will lead to many more research on this theory. When a sculpturist touch this subject, he had to go through a lot of subjects involved with the theory.

But your thurst on this also like that of sculpturist, Vijay. Carry on.. good wishes.

In fact my blog logo is Arthanareeswara.

September 10th, 2009 at 18:38

That’s amazing stuff; as I am relatively newer to this blog/site;

Thanks Vijay kumar

September 10th, 2009 at 21:25

Tks Satheesh, Geetha amma and dhivakar sir.

Gokul welcome. Please take your time to visit our previous posts as well and share with your friends ( you have already done it ..tks)


September 11th, 2009 at 7:28

Arpudhamaana Silai, adhaninum arpudhamaana vilakam , Chozhargalin Arpudhangalai alavida mudiyathu!!!!

September 11th, 2009 at 7:34
Kathie B.

Beautiful Trisul !
Love the murthis you choose to highlight, and your commentary.
Keep ‘em coming.

September 16th, 2009 at 9:10

Great Viju. The sketches are marvellous

September 17th, 2009 at 16:11

hi prasanna - they aren’t true sketches, but traces. all praise to the sculptor


September 18th, 2009 at 14:19

Usually in male and female of same height, as far as Homo Sapiens are concerned, the hip level will be higher in the female than male. In other words, the male torso will be longer than female one. Trying visually to straighten the statue will clearly reveal such a proportion. I think the bend of knee in male is not to give an impression of longer limbs, then for what??, I don’t know..

October 27th, 2009 at 20:38

awesome vijay! your posts help us understand these marvelous sculptures better and better

June 12th, 2010 at 23:34


August 15th, 2010 at 16:37

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