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Posts Tagged ‘Murugan’


The caves of Ellora are a sculpture enthusiasts delight. Not only for the sheer effort but also the detailing for the relief sculptures. Today we are going to see a very unique sculpture from Ellora Cave 21.

Its that of Karthikeya

karthikeya

Photo credits:
http://www.elloracaves.org/search.php?cmd=search&words=&mode=normal&cave_name=21

This is a fantasitc sculpture of Karthikeya - he is depicted standing in Samabhanga ( straight profile) with his right hand resting on his hip ( a pose that is called Katyavalambita )

karthikeya

Originally the sculpture was four armed, but has sufferred much damage. The second right hand ( upper) is totally gone. While the second left hand ( upper) is gently holding his peacock mount. The lower left hand seems to be holding a kind of pot or vessel. He wears the Yagnopavitha and some heavy jewellery across his neck - his elaborate crown is also a sight to watch.

His mount the peacock has lost its head to time, but identification is easy with its wings clearly being displayed, though the legs are a bit stout ( to be strong enough to carry his Lord ??)

peacock

There are two sets of Clesestial couples depicted flying above the panel on its two sides. The couple to the left of the image seem to be in awe of the splendor of Karthikeya ( both their right hands held up in vismaya pose), while the male on the right is holding his hands in prayer ( anjalai pose) - the lady seems to be quite non chalant !!

the flying celestial couples

Now, we come to the two attendants. Very unique to see two Goat headed attendants.

The one to the left of the image, is a bit feminine in its stance and general build ( sadly the sculpture is much worn) and is smelling a flower ( lotus?) in its right hand while left hand is resting on its ( sorry for the usage - dont know if i can use his or her) hip. There is a certain shyness associated with the twist of the head etc, so i would take it as a her.

left side goat headed attendant

The right side attendant is definitely a male, but his hand pose is quite unique. If you notice closely, the right hand is coming into an angali pose but the left hand is holding his right elbow - almost like how a Kung Fo student will salute his master ( master - teach me Kungfo type !!!)

right side goat headed assistant

Who could these two represent. There is one eligible candidate for the lady goat head - Ajamukhi, the sister of the Surabadman and the daughter of Maya and sage Kasyapa ( they are said to have taken the form of goats and gave birth to Ajamukhi)

For more read here on this legend.

http://indianmythologytales.blogspot.com/2009/04/tales-of-muruga-part-1.html

That leaves the right side attendant. The only other Goat headed person ( though not directly associated) is Dhaksha whom we had seen earlier in the panel in tanjore. Could it be he ?

Leaving on a two week break - with big plans of covering Chidambaram, Tanjore, trichy, madurai and coimbatore - to bring you more rare beauties. Till then we bid adieu and wish all readers a Merry Xmas and a happy, prosperous and rewarding new year 2010.

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In the previous post, we saw stylistically the earliest and latest somaskanda images.

Today, we are going to see why the Somaskanda Panel in the Dharmaraja Ratha is the earliest available panel of this form.

Lets take a look again at the Somaskanda panel from the Dharamaraja Ratham and the sketch.

Somaskanda dharamaraja ratha
somaskanda dharmaraja ratha

To compare it with say a typical Rajasimha style Somaskanda - we have a beautiful almost perfect specimen from the Rajasimeshwara Temple in the shore temple complex ( the shore temple is a complex shrine comprising of an earlier Vishnu shrine buttressed by two shiva shrines - the Rajasimeshwara and Kshatriyasimeshwara shrines - the Kshatriyasimeshwara too has a Somaskanda but we will see that in a subsequent post)

shore temple rajasimeshwara somaskanda
shore temple

A sketch to assist you in finding the differences. Lets see if you can point out the characteristic differences between the two Somaskandas.

A further twist to the various puzzles that abound in Mallai, the Ramanuja Mandaba is the most complete of the structures but due acts of vandalism - its like a slate that’s been wiped clean. Someone has chiseled out the door guardians, the three relief panels inside as well.

ramanuja mandabam mallai
vandalised somaskanda outline ramanuja mandabam mallai

But as they say no crime is perfect, the chiseled out panel does leave an outline. The central shrine clearly shows the outline of a Somaskanda

anotherview of ramanuja mandabam ss outline
ramanuja mandabam ss outline

Lets try and trace that and see what style is it - the Dharamaraja Ratha style or the Rajasimeshavara style.

somaskanda outline ramanuja mandabam mallai

To assist you, i am giving some additional outlines of the Shiva and Umai sides of the Dharamaraja Ratha Somaskandar

shiva dharamaraja ratha somaskanda panel
umai - dharmaraja ratha somaskanda

Hope you dont need any further clues. Lets test your observations skills.

Images courtesy:

Varalaaru.com. and Mr Ashok

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