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Posts Tagged ‘Murugan’

With the HR&CE and temple authorities continuing to be lax in their documentation, this expose shows again the importance of photo documenting our temple treasures.

Little did I realise that this innocuous looking book held within itself a vital clue.

South-indian images of gods and goddesses (1916)

available for free download here

page 109 in the book ( 129 in the pdf) has this photograph of a Somaskanda

book

The label simply states Somaskanda ( metal), sivankudal

038

This is a very unique somaskanda wherein the Siva and Uma have been cast seperately with indivudual pedestals. For those who know about bronze casting, the difficulty of such an attempt is evident - having to match the pedestals not only for height but also for the runner designs.

Thankfully this provides us some vital clues in identifying this bronze, which is currently in the Asian Civilisations Museum being purchased in the year 2000.

museum catalogue
acm somaskanda

Let us compare the two

ss
shiva
uma
skanda
antelope
uma attributes n hands
uma face n ornaments
shiva face n ornaments
pedestal

It is without doubt the same bronze. Further our enquiries have revealed that the temple has no other bronze currently - ie has lost all its treasures. The Book sadly has no other bronzes listed from this temple and from our checking no other book has any references to this temple. It is sadly an ASI protected site with no documentation.

Now, its up to the authorities to investigate this and establish the chain. But if this is confirmed it pushes the string of robberies to pre 2000 and many more temple bronzes and sculptures sold by the dealer into the ambit of “shady” dealings.

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In our continuing independent investigation of the loot of India’s cultural treasures, we have unraveled many startling truths and begin our expose on the Kapoor files. The objective of this series is not only to bring these shady deals to light, but also build awareness of the total apathy towards the loot of our cultural treasures - despite having the best minds in technology it is quite disgusting that we are being taken for a ride - not only is this day light robbery but the sale is also happening right in front of us - making a complete mockery of our regulatory watchdogs.

On one side are our religious moral police who seek new reasons to stall our genuine efforts to photo document our treasures and create a cultural database which will be an effective deterrent for these looters and their bosses. On the other side is the bureaucracy and red tape that fails to put in place effective curbs and instead disturb century old customs by dumping sacred bronzes into a central warehouse - without even ensuring adequate safeguards of tagging and cataloging them.

Back to the said case - We understand that the details of this case have been published on the Idol wing’s official website sometime in 2009. It is really sad that such an important case has been handled in such a fashion - Dancing Sambandar is titled Krishnan, Chandikeshwara is labelled as Murugan and Astra devar as Deepalakshmi ! So much for experts situated right in chennai who could have been called in to assist.

Thankfully there is also a pdf file which has better labels. But the size and quality of these images leave a lot to be desired. Thankfully someone ( French Institute Pondichery) has documented these sometime in the 1970’s that we atleast have something to fight our case !

idol_wing

For the record the authorities in the Institute have not shared any photos or images with me - since i am not attached to any academic institute, nor am i a Research Scholar nor am i doing any Phd studies affiliated to any institute. I have tried explaining that my aim is nobler than mere personal academic gain and my fight is to bring these cultural treasures back home - but for the past two months i am left with the shady / grainy photos on the web only.

Ever since we broke the news of the Vriddachalam Ardhanari loot we have analysed hundreds of photos both in our image database and on the net for clues. We are thankful for google without whom we would never have stumbled on this - the past catalogues of Kapoor’s gallery Art of the Past. We take up the Catalogue September 2009 for our investigation.

catalogue_cover

Of interest is item number 14.

catalogue

The gallery has really put up some wonderful images of the bronze on its catalogue.

profile
skanda
rev

Now back to the pdf released by the Idol wing - notice the one marked in red at the bottom.

idol_wing

We could at best cull out this from the same for our study.

idols_foreign(1)_page2_image7

As you can see its a badly cropped image and tried our best to resize

corrected

It is very evident that we having fine bronze of Murugan / Subramanya with his characteristic attributes with us. It is not a Chola bronze but a Vijayanagara period creation ( as expertly advertised in the catalogue).

Are we talking of the same piece - one phtoographed insitu in the temple in Suthamalli and one in USA for the Art of the Past Catalogue.

skanda_catalogue

Though the tradition of bronze crafting did deteriorate post the 12th C CE Chola period in terms of artistic and aesthetic beauty the basics were still the same. So you are still have the same basic process of manufacture via the lost wax and hence each bronze is indeed unique. I would like to bring your attention to some unique aspects of this particular work - the fashioning of the hands and in particular the way the thumb is fashioned is rather crude but comes to our rescue.

compare_hands
compare_attributes

Moving to the ornamentation - the ear ornaments are pretty unique as well as the medallion on the chest.

compare_ear
compare_ornaments

Thus even with these low resolution images it is quite easy to prove the loot. The larger question remains as to where is this bronze currently. Has it been sold to some museum or art dealer or still in the Warehouse of the Art Gallery in America?

There is one more important clue that is going to help us by not being present !! Yes, there is a reason why the looters removed the deity from its base pedestal.

We shall see why and many more startling facts and revelations in the coming posts. 2 down - 26 more to go !!

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