Posts Tagged ‘Boar ’

The core of this post is based on a interview that Satheesh conducted with Sri K.P.Umapathy Acharya - hereditary achitect and sculptor. I have supported it with pictures from Shriram,Gokul, graphic work by Ashok and closeups of the individual frames during my recent trip to mallai.

We would have passed this sculpture panel many times ( The earlier post)and each time a new awareness dawns on you. So too is this post

Lets first see the panel as a whole.

Mallai Varaha panel

We have already seen a detailed post of this core theme,so will skip that part. Now, to add some highlights ( thanks to Ashok)


Can you now understand the crux of this post. - we are going to see how the Pallava sculpture has excelled in his portrayal of a multitude of hand and leg postures, am also trying to compare these with Angkorian ( cambodia - thanks to photos from Sri Gokul / sin - ardent cricket fan and best scorer in Singapore league) panel - to highlight why the Pallava sculptor is par excellence.

Inorder to better understand these, have taken individual exposures of the poses - so please take your time to see the indexed version and then proceed to see the individual items.

varahaPanel(hands) index
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index 2
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index 6 closeup
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Notice how each of the individual carvings are unique, ie not of the same size, yet every aspect of proportion is maintained for the individual sculpture. No two hands are the same, not only posture wise but also in dimensions.

index 14
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At first glance we tend to miss out the significance of the last two photos.Well you might ask, why bring in the legs suddenly into the discussion. Let me throw in a few snaps of the Angkorian Apsara / dancers and see if you get a hint.

agkorian relief sculpture
angkorian sculpture

No, ok, now do you get it

the depiction of the feet of an angkorian sculpture
the depiction of the feet of angkorian panel

See how the Pallava craftsmen has depicted the feet, especially of the person who is sculpted as facing into the wall. Simply mind blowing.

The depiction of the feet both facing to one side - would be akin to a beginner’s attempt at sketching someone in straight profile. You have difficulty in showing the depth in a one dimensional sketch. But a bas relief is almost a 3 dimensional medium ( well 2 1/2 - 3D would be a full sculpture like an idol or statue). But the Angorian style is more representative of a craftsmen moving from a uni dimensional sketch into sculpture, while the Pallava craftsmen centuries before had already mastered this.

Some more pictures to illustrate the intricacies of the panel for your viewing pleasure.

boomadevi's upper garment fallen loose
varaha eye and snout
varaha right leg on naga hood
varaha tusk

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We had seen earlier the interesting belly face of Shiva’s assistant in the Mahabalipuram great penance panel. While i was discussing this with Kathie sometime back, she immediately recognised a similar face ( brilliantly) this time from an early Chola temple - situated 50 kms from Trichy - compared to the later temples this pocket sized temple is packed with so much of sculptural beauty - The magnificent Koranganathar temple in Srinivasanallur,

srinivasanallur koranganatha temple.jpg

The temple is situated on the banks of the river Cauvery at Srinivasanallur. It is not a ‘living’ temple. “..Early Chola temples were small with no walls around them. Koranganatha temple 50 km from Trichy is the garbhagriha-and-mandapa type with beautiful sculptures on every surface. The base of the wall has a row of sculpted mythical animals called yazhi that is a special feature of Chola architecture. The first floor is made of bricks which have been plastered. This temple is a prototype of south-style architecture…” Takeo Kamiya in Architecture of the Indian SubContinent

Well, beautiful sculptures is putting it mildly, we will see the beauty of its sculptures in subsequent posts. But today we are to see just a panel - a decorative lintel panel, called Thorana or more correctly a Magara Thorana. This sculpture kind of symbolises the entire temple, for the amount of detailing that’s gone into this piece of stone is mind blowing. Lets take a look at the panel now.


Set high above the wall above two spectacular damsels ( we will see them later - just that dont want to divulge from the subject) the myriad of creatures - from mythical riders riding spectacular lion yaazhis, who themselves emerge from the mouths of larger Yaazhis, they seem to be at war with each other or just sporting ( This seems to be a popular motif among Cholas - with more definition for such sculptures in Pullamangai, Big temple and Darasuram - we will see them also soon)

The two Ganas.JPG

The main character in the panel seems to be Vishnu as the Boar saving Mother Earth - he is shown with four hands - with the top two hands holding up his standard weapons, he is full of victorious/ triumphant energy - see him sporting her on his left lap - Mother Earth is all devotion, relieved at being rescued shown praying with folded hands. That the sculptor has gone to such lengths to portray even the Naga King and queen in such a miniature but with intricate details ( see them just coming into frame under Varaha murthy)

Our friend tiger belly again.jpg

Noticeably one of the Ganas has the head of a bull - the one to the extreme left bottom. - just abvoe him is our little friend. We saw him in the Mallai penance panel - her he is again, this time upto more mischief, making faces by pulling his mouth with his index finger. The tiger yazhi in the belly seems more gruesome here. Have one more instance of such a belly faced Gana in Pullamangai ( if readers find any more please send us), not all Ganas are depicted thus. So do they have a name, a specific role - like the bull head one, the tiger belly etc??

Words cant be found, no praise too much to drink in this splendid creation. Just makes you sit back and let it fill your senses.

Thanks to Shriram for the temple pictures ( more to come) and Kathie for the panel and for identifying this for me.

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