Posts Tagged ‘Bronze’

The previous post on the chola bronze in the Singapore museum, evinced lot of interest. Lots of freinds were eager to know about how the statue got there etc. Its true that most Museums around the globe have chola bronzes in their collections. Its a tribute to the master craftsmen for their endurance and also to many devoted people who helped to hide, bury these beauties deep into the ground ( there is a prescribed manner how this is to be done, during bad times)


Lots of times, these masterpieces take the wrong routes ending up in private collections and exhibits, the most famous one being the London Natraja case, where Dr. Nagaswamy expertly argued the case, stunning the world with his knowledge of chola bronzes and ensuring that the statue returned to home soil

Bio Data of Dr. Nagaswamy with the London Nataraja case:

OK, all that is fine, but what are we doing to the many splendid works of art that languish in India. Many are in dark cellars inside our museums, as hardly anyone visits them anymore, except the tourist and one off school educational tours. Much less can be said about them in their original residences. These are from xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx temple , pictures from Sri. Chandra of REACH Foundation:

shiva bronze.jpg

The great poet Bharathi, immortalised by his divine compositions wrote thus…

O! Sivasakthi, the supreme creator of the Universe
You made me with sharp intellect and charm
But then, will you keep me in helpless poverty?
Will anybody throw a beautiful harp out on the street?

( tks to Dr Kannan of Min tamil for the extempore translation)

How true !!

Two amazingly beautiful 13th C chola bronzes, an impeccable Nataraja - who is all movement, grace - for he is Lord of destruction, but does it warrant keeping him amidst all this filth. The next is a sublime Shiva, if the previous form was all fluid motion, this is calm benevolence. Both left to contemplate on their plight on the ground, with white ants for company.

Do we realise our rich heritage?
( Sadly, the location xxxxxxxxxxxx out for safety reasons)

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We have mostly seen stone sculptures till now, just taking a break to showcase another master creation - in bronze, not just any bronze but a famed chola bronze.

A chance Advt in the local Tv channel led me to go to the Asian civilizations museum in Singapore last june (07). Btw Its located just off raffles MRT across the Singapore river.

The entrance fees were not steep ( sgd 8 for adults and 4 for children) -I was greeted at the entrance itself by a large cut out of a chola bronze - an 11th C Uma Parameshwari. ( my son strikes a pose)

The welcome cutouts.jpg

There were a couple of other chola bronzes ..incl one of young Sambandar dancing. There was also a beautiful stone sculpture of Subramaniar ( Chola Period).

chola bronze sambandar.jpg
chola subramanya.jpg
close up of facial detailing of subramanya.jpg
the museum desciption.jpg

After having seen the cutouts of the bonze, couldn’t wait to see the piece in person. So i kind of rushed through all the other exhibits and almost ran to the main hall. The piece de resistance - the Uma paramershwari idol was a special exhibit

I was stunned into silence on the viewing the exhibit. True you have often seen temple bronzes and Panchaloka idols, the small sized but delightfully detailed processional images - but to view a true
masterclass authentic chola Bronze, cast a 1000 years ago,by the lost wax method,a painstaking yet breath taking process - wherein each image is unique, crafted by the expert fingertips of the master sculptor first into bee wax, then covered is special grade sand/clay, fired then in a kiln that melts the wax, leaving the sand cast, then hot metal is poured and then the cast is broken - that’s what I meant by each image is unique.


The exquisite green sheen lent it an aura of mystic, transcendental beauty, transporting me back in time, I couldn’t just step aside, my total attention riveted and arrested,stunned,for a full ten minutes, maybe such was the greatness of the immovable object in front of me that it poured its characteristics into me,locking me into it,turning me into a statue. My bodily functions, my senses all ceased to respond, all energies focusing instead to highlight the visual overdose that was overpowering, yet casting me into a sense of sheer bliss. The magnificence of this piece was breathtaking yet at the same time poetic, a strange aura of genuine happiness, of seeing the handiwork of a gifted artist over 1000 years ago, surviving and continuing to do its duty - of blending art with spirituality, the mastery of craftsmanship - the statue was at best 2 feet in height, but the detailing was exquisite, the grace and calm of her face and love in the smile,the sharpness of her nose, offsetting the immaculate eye brows, the enchanting eyes, the lovely locks of her hair falling into rolling tresses over her shoulders, the intricate ornaments on his neck, the grace of her poise - the gentle sway accentuating the narrow waist, the beautiful and elaborate work on her lower garments,her hands and fingers bring life to the figurine, she came to life and I became metal. That is the power that a chola bronze can wield over you.


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