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Posts Tagged ‘brahma’

Ever since i laid my eyes on this masterly creation, its been a personal crusade to bring out its beauty for all to see. Its taken almost 10 years and was it worth the wait n effort that went into it. I do hope you will agree with me once you complete reading this post.

We are going to see today the truly remarkable sculpture of Shiva in his Urdhva Thandava pose.

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For starters, this is a pillar sculpture - meaning the entire composition is of a single piece of stone - the Kanaga sabhai with its collection of 8 such brilliant compositions was commissioned between 1625 CE and 1659 CE in the reign of Rajah Sivathiru Azhagaathiri Nayakkar.

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the+rear+with+cage
the+steel+cage+cannot+appreiciate

Why all this effort, you might ask, for this pinnacle of artistic beauty, the very epitome of sculptural excellence, is lost to many - hidden behind a steel cage. I hope patrons who read this, could get together and maybe sponsor a glass casing instead of this ugly steel monster.

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sadly+cant+appreciate+its+beauty
this+is+speciality+of+this+but+cant+notice

Its quite late for such a fantastic exhibition of stone work - considering the relatively lesser quality workmanship seen in the post chola, Pandya 13- 14th C CE - but, the sculptures here are proof that this art form survived and thrived till the 16th Century -possibly reaching its pinnacle in this very hall.

To visualise the true grandeur of this amazing structure, we are helped thankfully with a old plate from the British archives.

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Thanks to varalaaru.com we also found this sketch by great artist Silpi.

perur

Now, that we have a macro view of this mind blowing composition, lets go closeup to view what it hides within itself. Place on record our sincere thanks to the temple EO, who after hours of convincing, felt our passion for this art and not only allowed us to photograph these gems but also opened the grill gates for us….we were in for a true feast - come partake in our pleasures.

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This sculpture is unique in many aspects and to truly understand them we need to go closeup - mean real closeup - for , its said that Siva’s dance cannot be comprehended by lesser masters. It is only the great ones like Brahma, Bharata, Hari, Narada or Skanda who can understand or appreciate his dance.

An inscription on the cave temple at Saluvankuppam has a verse to elucidate not only the distinction of Siva’s dance, but also to enumerate the great celestial exponents of natya and sangita and their ability, as the right audience, to appreciate Siva’s dance: yadi na vidhata bharato yadi na harir narado na va skandha boddhum ka iva samarthas sangitam kalakalasya (Epigraph. Ind. 10, p. 12).
From the Book:
NATARAJA – THE LORD OF DANCE - Dr. Sivaramamurti

It is not only these great gods and goddesses, the creators each in his or her own important way, that are the witnesses to applaud the dance of Siva, but they enthusiastically also join in creating the orchestra for him, by playing the musical instruments. At the very sign of his brow, Vishnu takes up the drum mardala, which, with is noble rumbling notes, like the cloud inspiring the blue-throated peacock to dance, starts the musical sound. With his louts hand, Brahma takes up a pair of cymbals, ostensibly to keep time to the dance of the victor of Kama

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vishnu+on+drums

Whats so special here is the depiction of Brahma.

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count+the+heads

He is shown here with 5 heads and is holding the attributes of Shiva - the Axe and the deer !!

Like a musician, who, during his song, stops for a while, and draws attention to the tala or the rhythm beat, Siva the great dancer, pauses for a while, to sound the drum himself in between, to show the correct adjustment when necessary

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Another uniqueness in this sculpture - was tempted to use the word panel here, but then this is no panel - its a monolith for that matter, is the depiction of Karaikkal ammaiyaar.

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masterly+karaikkal+ammai
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Such masterly depiction of the shriveled breasts, the loose folds of skin across the neck and throat - to show an old lady, prematurely aged - giving up her beauty to become a ghost. Read previous links for her !!

ofcourse, we do have a very chubby Muyalagan underneath his foot, cradling his snake.

a+very+healthy+muyalagan

Its becoming a long post, but its a crime to break it into two or three parts, for the beauty and charm of this piece of art is too sublime to be enjoyed in parts. I will try and use less descriptive words and more pictorial speech.

The face of a youthful shiva - complete with a double chin, the carved curves of the nostrils….

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The beauty of the limbs - even to the detailing of the reverse kneecap. Oh, the fingers, lines, nails - cuticles…

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Another beautiful aspect to notice - the feet - the toes - top and bottom view, the ring of the sandal and on the other side, the grace of the inwardly turned hand and the delicate mudra of the thumb and forefinger !!

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The row of arms on both sides are a sight to behold with the myriad of attributes.

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Such detailing in the hands and the attributes, some a quite unique and am yet to find their names and significance.

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Especially this one

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Normally would get some props to give our readers an idea of the scale of the composition - it would be a key for miniature panels and even went with the elephant for the big temple door guardian, but this natural prop blew me away.

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Maybe, the skill of the sculptor fooled our winged friend who is blunting his fangs in vain to draw blood from this !!!

If you like what you have seen and would like future visitors not to be deprived of a chance to drink in this distilled essence of artistic brilliance, please pass on the word - to patrons who can raise funds and the cry - to change the grill to atleast a glass panel.

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An interesting sculpture chat !! ( Thanks to N for allowing me to post bulk of the conversation with some minor enhancements)

N: Hi vj, visited Mallai yesterday

Me: just seeing ur album, thanks for the credits.

N: Please do put in your comments to the photos

me: will do. a trick question for u, since you have posted the trimurthi mandabam photos, can you identify the deities in each of the 3 shrines

Trimurthi cave

N: Brahma vishnu shiva

me: hahaha, pl look carefully and confirm sir,if it were so easy would i ask you

N: hmmm

me: how do identify a deity inside a shrine. In pallava times, you use two methods, if the deity is present - look for its attributes, if not present try and see the attributes of the door guardians. since both are present, check each shrine for this

N: i want to use Friend Help :-/ Can u tell me

Me: no sir, u try first, its important - for you to spend some time viewing

N: the middle one is shiva, where the linga is

shiva
shiva panel

me: s, you can see the Axe of shiva in his right hand. The left hand seems to be holding a rosary. The Linga seems to be a later implant !!

N: the lady outside is Mahishasuramardhini

durga relief sculpture
durga2

me: s, Durga. The ornate work on top of her is spectacular

the elaborate thorna above durga

N: the god with tall crown is vishnu
The other is one is Brahma

vishnu
vishnu 3
vishnu shrine2

me: hmm, Vishnu is simple - you can see the conch and discus. how do you say the other is brahma

brahma sasta shrine inside

N: Trinity is completed by Brahma .. That is y thrimurthi isnt it VJ

me: haha, mallai is full of puzzles. What is the most characteristic feature of brahma images?

N: 3 heads

me: can you see 3 there

the third shrine

N: no

me: what is the right door guardian holding in his hand ( left hand)

rishi left
rishi right

N: Not Clear

me: do you notice anything unique in the dress of the inner deity

closeup

N: X shaped belts

me: have u seen this anywhere for brahma??

N: and kind of lion cloth, No … i didnt

me: do you notice anything different about the crown

N: it has kind of horn

me: i think i can make this chat conversation into a post by itself

N: what is the peculiarity, tell me Vj

me: can i make this as a post, this chat conversation?

N: Yes
But dont disclose my name B-) ;)

me: N, doesnt disclose right!!

N: Yes, i dont want extra fame ;) it is pointed in form

me: haha, the right door guardian is holding a Shruk(a long handled laddle)used for pouring ghee in a sacrificial fire, connected to vedic sacrifice /ritual. The left holds a flower /bud. So the assumption of yours - that is denotes brahma is partly correct.The door guardians are rishis, elderly men with beards, all go well with the brahma concept, but inside the deity is not bearded, but a young one

N: yes, Tell me

me: further the conical head dress, the x belts - are features of a warrior god who is said to have taught the vedas to brahma

N: Skanda

me: Can you look closely at the photos and see what the two flying ganas are holding?

me: its skanda - in his brahma sasta form

N: brahma sasta form means

Me: I am no expert, but this wonderful article and photos will clarify the head dress and the X pattern.

Murugan research article - all credits to the site

“The deity is shown wearing a short conical basket-like head-gear (karanda-makuta) with a thick giralet of flowers (kannl) around the base. According to ancient Tamil tradition, kannl was the attribute of the warrior.8 The deity also wears the double shoulder-string (channavīra), another attribute of the warrior. Both the attributes, found mostly in the earlier sculpture of the Pallava period, emphasise the fact that Murukan was essentially a warrior-god. “

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The site listed above is a fantastic resource of Skanda/Muruga and would recommend a serious read for everyone.

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