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Posts Tagged ‘ardhanari’

There are some sculptures that imprint themselves into your memory - this androgyne was one such. From the moment i chanced on the picture of him/her i could never take my eyes of the beauty of this sculpture.

vridhagirisvarar vriddachalam

I had used it to show the refinement of the Ardhanari image post - little did I realise then that the beauty had been robbed !!

Readers must have read the post on the Sivapuram Somaskanda and it was with great interest that i read today’s Hindu article of the Australia Nataraja. Interestingly there was a mention of the site Chasing Aphrodite in the article as source for the images. One led to another and the detailed article and the Ardhanari begun to haunt me - vaguely familiar !!

220.2004##S

It is quite interesting that the Museum records show the following proofs for its Provenance

aradhanareshwara-prov
ardhanarishvara-receipt

Quote: Ardhanarishvara

In 2004, the Gallery purchased this Chola-period sculpture from Kapoor for more than $300,000. The 44-inch stone figure represents Ardhanarishvara, the androgynous form of Shiva and Parvati. It comes from Tamil Nadu, home to some 2500 important temples to Shiva. The image of Ardhanarishvara was likely in a niche on an external wall.

Kapoor provided two documents with the sculpture.

One is a receipt dated 1970, purportedly from Uttam Singh and Sons, the Delhi “copper and brass palace” that sold the sculpture to a private collector.

The second document purports to be a 2003 “Letter of Provenance” on letterhead from Art of the Past, Kapoor’s Madison Ave. gallery. It is signed by “Raj Mehgoub,” who claims to be the wife of a diplomat who lived in Delhi from 1968 to 1971.”

I ran back to my collections to trace the source of my reference.

Early Cola Architecture and Sculpture
; 866-1014 A.D.
Douglas E. Barrett - Published in 1974 !! intact in its Kosta in the temple !

and there in his plates is the same Kosta sculpture.

in_temple

It is pretty clear even for a layman from the slab’s outline and the detailing in the sculpture as to the origin. I hope the authorities would be able to get their act together now and work towards bringing this invaluable treasure back to the Temple.

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Not all mysteries in archeology need an Indiana Jones or a Lara Croft to make it reveal its secrets, however, if ever there was one that would even baffle them, it is the wonder that stands forgotten in the glory of the famed Murugan temple in Tirupparankundram. That the famed shrine itself is a cave temple is not common knowledge, however there exists another cave at the foothills of the same hill but a little further away to the left as you drive around it.

The main cave face.

cave_face

The first and foremost is the date assignable to the original excavation. The rather plain bulky set of two pillars and pilasters (half pillars) combined with the lack of any artistic fluting on their corbels help us to assign an early 8th C CE date to the cave.
It is very rare to see reliefs on the outer wall of excavated caves as usually we get to so only door guardians. However, in this cave there are many niches into which deep relief sculptures have been carved. We will visit them in the second part of this post as we need to move to the inside - to view some very intricate sculptures, whose superior iconography seem to suggest a 12th C CE to 13th C CE date.

The popular reasoning is that this was an extant Jaina cave which was later converted. Let us look at the shrine that has been cut into the left wall as we enter the cave. Inside this beautifully framed shrine is a relief sculpture of the androgynous from of Shiva as Ardhanari gracefully leaning on his bull mount.

sanctum_tpkundrm

The four armed sculpture has clear demarcation of the Shiva and Sakti portions, with him wearing a thigh length garment while hers is a sari to the knee.

Ardhanari in the Sanctum

ardhanari_cave

For all its grace and form, there are many aberrations in the form. Firstly we do not get to see relief sculptures of this form in any contemporary sites. Secondly it is quite plain that its size is too small for this sanctum’s proportions. The height of the pedestal is more suitable for a seated figure and not a standing figure. The the placement of the bull is also strange. A study of the evolution of the ardhanari form clearly shows the difficulty the sculptor has in balancing the male and female body proportions.

Such early examples are the forms in the Dharmaraja ratha and the Agasteshwara temple in Perungudi. While the Sama banga profile of the Dharamaraja sculpture lacks aesthetic appeal, the problems of the larger male proportions are evident in the Agasteshwara sculpture.

Ardhanari – Dharmaraja Ratha

ardhanari_dharamaraja_ratha

Ardhanari - Agastheswara

ardharari_agastheswara

The sculptors hence bring the Rishabava Vahana and let the form lean on its head to provide the counter balance. This is seen in the later day Chola sculptures including this stunning beauty from Vriddachalam and also seems to be the accepted norm as far as Elephanta.

Ardhanari – Vriddachalam

ardhanari_vriddachalam

Ardhanari - Elephanta

ardhanari_elepanta

The problem now with the Parankundam sculpture is the bull is positioned on the opposite side ie. Not on the male side but is on the female side and hence doesn’t lend the necessary balance to the composition. These are not consistent with the the amount of planning that is needed to complete a rock cut cave shrine.

sanctum

Things seem to further go wrong as we explore the rather crude attempt to shape the pedestal below, but the most crucial aspect of the puzzle rests in the totally unconnected curly patterns on the top.

designs
sanctum_designs

At first glance it would be easy to dismiss them as a tree etc but then only the Daksinamurthy form is shown with a tree canopy on top. This is where we need to explore the Jaina aspects. Take a look at these images.

10thC_hindu_image
K_malai
K_malai2
Tamilnadu_01
jaina_hindu
onambakkam_adinathar

We shall explore more such in part 2….

Photo Courtesy: Mr. Udayan, Mr. Arvind Venkatraman , the hindu archives.
http://www.hindu.com/2003/05/22/stories/2003052203230500.htm
http://www.hindu.com/2006/02/06/stories/2006020602410200.htm
http://www.herenow4u.net/index.php?id=76895

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