What an interesting exchange on the previous post ! forced me to put this part 2 of that debate.

Lets take a look at the sculpture under question again

Hanuman somnathpur with vishnu attributes and bana lingam
bana lingam
closeup of hanuman
face of hanuman
left hand holding the conch
right hand holding the discus

Is the sculpture indeed that of Hanuman holding the Bana l

Arguments for:

The Bana lingam legend, the facial features.

Arguments against

No tail, presence of two ladies on both sides, presence of Vishnu’s attributes ( but this is not a clear case as Cheenu’s rightly pointed out there are instances !)

What other sculptures could it represent

Macha Avatar

But there is a matcha ( fish) avatar sculpture right next to this sculpture.

Somnathpur - Matsya

We had arguments for this image as well, but the depiction of the eyes and the typical mouth kind of settled the issue.

Lets see them in closeup again ( thanks Arvind once again)

face of fish, notice the eyes
macha avatar closeup

Compare this macha avatar with the earlier sculpture, both can’t be the same for sure.

Varaha Avatar - Vishnu

A Definite possibility. Lets take a front depiction of Varaha from Ahobilam to compare.

ahobilam varaha side
ahobilam varaham

The depiction of a spherical ( ok egg shaped) earth is not found in sculptures even upto 200 years after this representation. Take a look again, its too defined a sculpture for an artist to err in the shape ( for the finesse in carving the conch and the discus).

bana lingam
left hand holding the conch
right hand holding the discus

While, its definitely a case in point to the two ladies. We see all the avatars and even Brahma sporting such attendants or consorts.

brahma somnathpur

Now, we come to this interesting sculpture. its Kurma ( Turtle) Avatar

Somnathpur - could be kurma

Lets study its features more closely

Kurma avatar
kurma avatar closeup
kurma face

There are some legends related with Vishnu seeking Shiva’s help ( Kachbeshwarar form). But is this and the original sculpture similar. Lets study the face features once more side by side.

face comparison

Well definitely not the same - clear from the eyes especially. I tend to side the argument for Hanuman more based on these.

An interesting sculpture and how a little bit of vandalism can lead to confusions, yet some tell tale signs help assist in proper identification.

another mystery image

Hey,who is this. Except for the face, everything is Ganesha. But the face …Hmm, lets take a closer look

closeup of mystery image showing all atrributes of ganesha

Stumped you. Well dont rake your brains yet, is this a composite Ganesha combined with Varaha / Hayagreevar ….

its our Ganesha only

No my friends, take a closer look at the top left ( of the sculpture)

the piece of the trunk holding a modhakam

Its the broken trunk, with the tip holding his favorite modhakam. Just a case of part of the trunk being broken !! Its our darling Ganesha only.

Leave a comment »

Category: Sculpture

Tags:  , , ,

Related Posts:

Read this in தமிழ்தமிழ்

This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 4th, 2009 at 12:14 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

16 Comments so far


I have no words. Very classical one. Let debates like this continue. We are enjoying


November 4th, 2009 at 12:26
arvind Venkatraman

On the last photo, I am not sure if the trunk is broken because of vandalism or just stylized so, and the bend in the trunk has not come out well in the photo. Should check this sculpture again.


November 4th, 2009 at 12:37
வெங்கட் சாமிநாதன்

I am swept off my feet. That such learned discussions and incisive arguments take place here with the relevant images to go with it. I am very thankful to all those learned souls who participate it. I cannot add tothem. I can only standby and enrich my understanding of the sculptures. thank you.

November 4th, 2009 at 12:42

அருமை! இப்படியே தொடர வேணும்.

November 4th, 2009 at 14:52

yes arvind, it could be stylistic representation too.

November 4th, 2009 at 16:06
rhoda alex

The part I and Part II of this post has been like reading a detective novel!! picchu odharittinga vijay!! the twist in the end is an agatha christie ending! Thank you!

November 4th, 2009 at 18:08
Kathie B.

I had a crazy thought, the face above the BanaLingam is almost the same shape as the BanaLingam. could it be a ShivaLingam devoted to Vishnu for some reason? Say one of the several made by RAMA? [one of sand is in Banganga at Mumbai, also]

November 4th, 2009 at 19:26
Kathie B.

The KurmaAvatara face is certainly similar,
why no shell? Very strange. But the Matsya
at Som. also uses a fish’s face rather than fish body, so it must be. Does it even look like a turtle’s face? Another thought: personification of the golden germ- Hiranyagarbha.

November 4th, 2009 at 20:54

Interesting debate…Initially i thought it was kuruma avatar too ..

November 4th, 2009 at 22:25

அருமையாக பாடம் எடுக்குறீர்கள், விஜய்.

November 5th, 2009 at 6:16

hi Kathie,

Regarding Kruma turtle - check this


regarding Hiranyagarba ( you never stop to amaze me) - not many would even know about this. ( btw, our beloved Raja Raja did Hiranya garbha yaaga - which is said to deliver one from the bondage of rebirth!!). Back to the subject - there are very unclear explanations of the Hiranya Garba aspect of cosmic creation. The egg floated along with the waters - but who created the Egg. Did the creator create the egg and then get inside it, who was born of the egg, the creator’s creation or the creation to bear the job of the creator.


November 5th, 2009 at 12:13
Kathie B.

That snapping turtle’s a kick.

November 6th, 2009 at 17:05

vj, very interesting.It may be Hayagreva with horse face but bana in his hand?

November 17th, 2009 at 16:29
venkata rao

it may be dhanvanthri holding necter in a pitcher he is a avathar of lord vishnu &preceeds mohini avathar hari also means monkey

August 14th, 2010 at 17:17

nice thought. but how do we explain the facial features

August 14th, 2010 at 18:25

last month only i had gone to somnathpur, and i also wondered about this particular sculpture. anyway i had taken a photo of this to ask about this to my parents. but i had a guess that it would be garuda with an egg. ( earlier i had heard about some stories of garuda with egg).please anybody confirm ???

January 20th, 2011 at 21:42

Leave a Reply

Name (required)(*)
Mail (will not be published)(*)