Archives by Month: November, 2009

An interesting sculpture chat !! ( Thanks to N for allowing me to post bulk of the conversation with some minor enhancements)

N: Hi vj, visited Mallai yesterday

Me: just seeing ur album, thanks for the credits.

N: Please do put in your comments to the photos

me: will do. a trick question for u, since you have posted the trimurthi mandabam photos, can you identify the deities in each of the 3 shrines

Trimurthi cave

N: Brahma vishnu shiva

me: hahaha, pl look carefully and confirm sir,if it were so easy would i ask you

N: hmmm

me: how do identify a deity inside a shrine. In pallava times, you use two methods, if the deity is present - look for its attributes, if not present try and see the attributes of the door guardians. since both are present, check each shrine for this

N: i want to use Friend Help :-/ Can u tell me

Me: no sir, u try first, its important - for you to spend some time viewing

N: the middle one is shiva, where the linga is

shiva panel

me: s, you can see the Axe of shiva in his right hand. The left hand seems to be holding a rosary. The Linga seems to be a later implant !!

N: the lady outside is Mahishasuramardhini

durga relief sculpture

me: s, Durga. The ornate work on top of her is spectacular

the elaborate thorna above durga

N: the god with tall crown is vishnu
The other is one is Brahma

vishnu 3
vishnu shrine2

me: hmm, Vishnu is simple - you can see the conch and discus. how do you say the other is brahma

brahma sasta shrine inside

N: Trinity is completed by Brahma .. That is y thrimurthi isnt it VJ

me: haha, mallai is full of puzzles. What is the most characteristic feature of brahma images?

N: 3 heads

me: can you see 3 there

the third shrine

N: no

me: what is the right door guardian holding in his hand ( left hand)

rishi left
rishi right

N: Not Clear

me: do you notice anything unique in the dress of the inner deity


N: X shaped belts

me: have u seen this anywhere for brahma??

N: and kind of lion cloth, No … i didnt

me: do you notice anything different about the crown

N: it has kind of horn

me: i think i can make this chat conversation into a post by itself

N: what is the peculiarity, tell me Vj

me: can i make this as a post, this chat conversation?

N: Yes
But dont disclose my name B-) ;)

me: N, doesnt disclose right!!

N: Yes, i dont want extra fame ;) it is pointed in form

me: haha, the right door guardian is holding a Shruk(a long handled laddle)used for pouring ghee in a sacrificial fire, connected to vedic sacrifice /ritual. The left holds a flower /bud. So the assumption of yours - that is denotes brahma is partly correct.The door guardians are rishis, elderly men with beards, all go well with the brahma concept, but inside the deity is not bearded, but a young one

N: yes, Tell me

me: further the conical head dress, the x belts - are features of a warrior god who is said to have taught the vedas to brahma

N: Skanda

me: Can you look closely at the photos and see what the two flying ganas are holding?

me: its skanda - in his brahma sasta form

N: brahma sasta form means

Me: I am no expert, but this wonderful article and photos will clarify the head dress and the X pattern.

Murugan research article - all credits to the site

“The deity is shown wearing a short conical basket-like head-gear (karanda-makuta) with a thick giralet of flowers (kannl) around the base. According to ancient Tamil tradition, kannl was the attribute of the warrior.8 The deity also wears the double shoulder-string (channavīra), another attribute of the warrior. Both the attributes, found mostly in the earlier sculpture of the Pallava period, emphasise the fact that Murukan was essentially a warrior-god. “


The site listed above is a fantastic resource of Skanda/Muruga and would recommend a serious read for everyone.

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Who e’re while the happy Garden sung,
By one mans disobedience lost, now sing
Recover’d Paradise to all mankind,….

goes John Milton in the opening lines of Paradise regained. This is how i feel now. After the previous post, which was in the lines of Paradise Lost, harboring absolutely no hope of even spotting this moat sculptures which we saw in the antique snaps.

the moat with a mystery idol
the mysteryidol

But Sri Selvaraj our reader, immediately recognised the figurines - he was absolutely certain that he had seen them 40 years back and promised to trace them out, despite the heavy encroachments surrounding it now. But inorder to build the tension the recent unabated rains did’nt allow immediate access.

However,today, as promised he produced possibly one of the most rewarding mails to me. The photos of the sculptures and that they are still safe in the walls exactly as captured in the century old pictures. Here they are.


Feel so happy, truly paradise regained !!

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