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Archives by Month: September, 2013

In the previous post we analysed the Sripuranthan Nataraja and raised definitive arguments for its comparison to the one in Australia. The post also raised questions on the other Nataraja - the Suthamalli one. To help you refresh your memory we take a look at the Idol wing release.

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Today we are going to further search for this bronze. The famed Nataraja of Suthamalli.

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This magnificent bronze has been in the news for all the wrong reasons, yet it was this crucial sculpture that helped to eventually crack the case as evidenced in this Hindu article.

Now the Idol wing put up these photos on its site sometime around 2009, a full 4 years after the theft. But we were quite surprised and filled with anguish when google returned us this March 2010 catalogue of the Art of Past gallery !!

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Exhibit 6

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Including macro closeup views of what appears to be the same bronze.

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A full year after the Idol wing put up the photos, the gallery published high resolution images of the same bronze and canvassed for sale. How can we be so sure it is the same bronze ? Its the same story of uniqueness of the lost wax process.

There are tell tale clues in the circle of flames in this bronze too - the circle is a modification over the Sripuranthan bronze and has a secondary ring. the shape of the inter weaning holes provides us the clues.

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There is also a unique design element combined with a dent on the same.

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The shape of the Lord’s twirling locks and the snake ornament are the same well - infact his locks are splendidly ornamented with different gems - if only we had a higher resolution photograph from the authorities !!

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As the Lord danced he twirled around and in this constant state of motion his adorning cloth is shown not only flying off but getting twisted on its own axis akin to how you would dry a wet towel - and the way the two ends of the cloth are attached are unique as well.

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So we can be sure without doubt that both are one and the same.

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There is a more specific clue which is already mentioned in the Hindu report, of an inscription sutavalli ( spelled with a tamil va instead of Ma for some reason) which is on the base pedestal. Since it is already discussed we do not dwell much on it but the old photo does not have this since it was taken prior to it being cleaned ! However, the above comparisons do prove without doubt that both are one and same. The inscription on the base however, is important , as we have reason to believe that all the bronzes of Sutamalli could have this on their bases - and hence have remained unsold ! The multitudes of prospective buyers who thronged the gallery are hence complicit in the crime !

A further argument on the above postulate will be explained in the next part of this series - where we look at what the catalogue described thus….” This is an extremely rare and important matched pair of the Shiva Nataraja and his consort, Uma Parameshvari. The divine couple have not only survived together as an original set, but also remain in complete states, with
their flaming prabhas and lotus pedestals.”

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In search of Uma Prameshvari….to be continued.

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Following the fantastic piece of investigative journalism by the Chasing Aphrodite team, we continue to dig and present data that we feel will be raise pertinent questions.

We are back to Idol wing’s published photos of the missing bronzes from the two temples - Suthamalli and Sripuranthan.

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Focus on the two Nataraja bronzes. One from Suthamalli

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and one from Sripuranthan

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sripuranthan nataraja

It is clear by observing the Prabhavali or the circle of flames surrounding the bronze that the two are very different though the stylisation of the Dancing Lord is almost the same.

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We have the Nataraja in the National Gallery which is said to “closely resemble” one of these - but which one? Lets study them.

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Once again the circle of flames helps us know that this resemblance is to the Sripuranthan bronze and not to the Suthamalli Nataraja.

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Now as published in the Chasing Aphrodite scoop, new photos have emerged of what appears to be the same bronze in the hand of the smugglers in an apartment in India sometime around 2006.

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The accused Kapoor’s Art of the Past had published this photo in its Catalogue.

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Now, as elaborated many times and also highlighted in the gallery’s defenses - there are hundreds of Nataraja bronzes in South Indian temples and they look very similar. However, to the trained eye it is very easy to spot the differences, credit again goes to the lost wax process wherein each is designed by hand, uniquely in wax before being cast in metal. So even with the hazy photos from the Idol wing / Archives - let us draw your eye to one particular aspect of the bronze. Count the flames in the ring and focus on the third one on his right - right under the uplifted foot

Do you see that part of the flame has broken off. Now let us compare all the images with us.

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Ironically the Lord seems to point out this if you let your eyes follow his bent lower left hand !!!

Ascertaining this fact must not take a few seconds if only we had a better quality image from the Idol wing / IFP Pondy archives.

So one thing is for sure, we are talking of the Sripuranthan bronze and it has been removed from its base pedestal as well !! The larger question remains as to where is the Suthamalli Nataraja now?

During the course of our Independent investigation, we found another magnificent bronze Nataraja in the Art of Past catalogue of March 2011.

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newer one
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Once again comparing the Prabhavali - it is not the Suthamalli Nataraja. If so where is this from ? Are there more temples from where these precious treasures have been looted and we are oblivious to it. Who is to search for these answers?

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