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Archives by Month: January, 2012

Many before and many henceforth will attempt to describe the dancing form of Shiva - Nataraja. The concept of his dance has inspired many and many more are drawn to it by the craft of the master artists who immortalised the form, as they captured his swirling movement in solid mediums - be it stone or metal.

Today, we see but a sample of the masterly craft, of portraying emotions that will take reels of print to even to try to describe.

lord
natarajar

Thanks to arvind’s expert captures, we see the Lord of Dance, in all his finery, not in a Museum Showcase but as an object of worship. The infinite grace of the form, the power of the pose, the soothing gesture of the hands, bring a sublime calmness as your mind seeks out his gaze.

manifestation
unmanifest.jpg

As you ponder on the manifest and the unmanifest, you loose track of time, before you realise that you are not alone. His consort Sivagami too stands there, awe struck, by her beloved’s pose.

sivagami

The appreciative smile pushing up the cheek and the pride swelling in her chest, she stands in all her feminine charm.

That is not all, there is one more person in the composition.

side


Karaikkaal Ammaiyaar


We have seen many of her forms before in stone
, there are also a few museum exhibits of hers.

hb_1982.220.11
met+museum

courtesy: From the Internet

The above bronzes while doing justice to the life story, lack a crucial ingredient. What made her unique was her Bakthi.

Bhakti or True devotion is more than just a state of mind, for it transcends existence. The primordial urge of any creation is to survive, not just to exist but to procreate. leave behind a progeny or maybe just make a ` dent’ in the universe. However, very few attain a state a state of total surrender to the supreme, where you stop seeking divine support to survive, to heal, to cure or just material richness or well being but instead submit in soul, spirit and beyond to become one with the supreme. Such a state of mind is so difficult to describe in words, the emotion of sheer bliss as you commune with the omnipotent. We can maybe comprehend the greatness of Karaikkal ammai with a ref from her 12th Tirumurai which condenses the essence of her bhakti in a stanza.

” I wish for the immortality of my love of you, for I do not wish for rebirth, however, if i were reborn, I want to be born again as your devotee, never forgetting you, and above all those wishes i pray for this wish - i want to see you dance to my joyful singing and that i want to witness seated at your beloved feet”

Now, take a look at the bronze.

karaikkal+ammai

The greatness of the craftsman to be able to capture the essence of that very emotion, of her going into rapture seeing her Lord Dance, the way her hands hold the cymbals - keeping beat while at the same time showing the appreciation, the uplifted face and the extended neck - showing her yearning, the face, the slightly flared nostrils showing the spontaneous outburst of emotion and the eyes, seemingly acknowledging the fulfillment of her wish.

expression

That is Bhakti for you.

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Its the season for contest and ….Got talent shows. These shows are filled with lots of talent and lots more glitz where the participants are pitched against one another and in a sequence of exponentially increasing odds they perform mind blowing feats to arrive at the prized price. Today we are going to see a similar contest but among sculptors - in stone. The stage is the famed Nellaiappar Temple of Tirunelveli. For the record, Me and Arvind went in without much expectations hoping to be outside in time for the famed Iruttukadai shop to open !

nellaiappar+sanctum

The raised platform with a distinctly post 15th C doorguardians ( I know I know - the nucleus of the temple is dated to 7th C CE..but) didn’t evoke much of a response, initially at least.

doorguardian

For as we went around to the steps, the sight blew us away.

doorguardian+left
monolith

The entire block is carved out of a monolithic stone, with the doorguardian in front and an extremely complex array of pillars of differing thickness in the back, and that was not all. Row after row of astounding pillars lined up as if for inspection in a guard of honor.

row+pillars

To top it, these were the famed musical pillars !! each producing a distinct note ( that they have survived so long with every visitor trying to show their musical prowess on them itself is worth an applause ) , but the sheer labour that went into these stumped us.

massive

When we say massive, we mean it. Not convinced, take a look.

size

and by massive, it doesn’t just mean gargantuan size alone. Take a look at the art on display !

cluster
design
different+shapes
pillar+cluster

This is not some trick sculpting, if you do not believe that its all carved out of a single block of stone. Take another look. The grain of the stone runs right through the different pillars.

grain+of+stone
stone+grain

There were a few more pillar clusters which seemed a bit easier on the chest and breathing ( with all the wows and ooh and aahs)

simple

.

mind+boggling

But, as in an expert rendition of carnatic music, we did not realise that the sculptor had lulled us into a false sense of mediocrity, to think that this was ordinary compared to the rest - but then, he had one or two more tricks to show us.

Watch closely towards the base. do you spot it?

something

Yes, when he was busy reducing the rock, he had left enough material to carve a ball inside the pillar, so designed that it cannot roll out ( also means it was not introduced later !!)

stone+ball

Well, i said a trick or two !! test your spotting skills

mind+boggling

Did you spot it?

designer+pillar
designer+pillar+notice

Yes, hewing a composite multiple fluted pillar that would emanate different musical notes while shaping a solid stone ball was not challenging enough for him - he sculpted a stone squirrel as well on the inside of one of the pillars.

stone+squirrel

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