Posts Tagged ‘Penance’

Its been a while since the celebrations of Rajini starrer Shivaji - the boss have died down. But i noticed one very interesting feature in the opening song of the movie.


Sorry again but i am not digressing from sculpture…been quite some while since we went to my favorite - mallai. So today we are going back to see a very unique sculpture, not many notice, few even realise that it is so. We cant fault them for so great is this panel - that is the largest open air bas relief sculpture in the world , hey hang on, I know regular readers are already saying that we carried a full length intro on the mallai penance panel - we also did some interesting comparisons of the test panel nearby as well and drew some conclusions on what is being depicted. However, today we are going to zoom in on a very very unique depiction and end of it you will see the links between the song and this sculpture.

When i meant zooming in, i did mean it literally. So, fasten your seat belts as we zoom in on the central figure ( ok the figure next to the central figure or inbetween the two central figures). Cant figure out who i am talking about ?

mallai penance1.jpg
mallai penance 2.jpg
mallai penance 3.jpg
mallai penance 4.jpg
mallai penance 5.jpg
mallai penance 6.jpg
belly lion face.jpg

Yes, today we are going to see this diminutive dwarf or goblin ( as many books call them) - faithful assistant of shiva, a very funny guy, right by the side of the boon giving Shiva. But did you notice something wierd in his belly!! Yes, its a tiger or lion face carved splendidly into his belly. Now do you get the reason for pulling in the song !

tiger belly in rajini song.jpg
tiger in the belly.jpg

Back to hardcore sculpture - What does this signify, is it just the Pallava sculptor showing off his prowess carelessly - are there similar depictions of such belly faces. Thanks to kathie, I have another, which we will see in part 2 of this post plus part 3 holds a new belly face as well.

Btw, this belly face is called a Urdhva Muha ( terror face !)
How many times some of us have been past this panel and not noticed this. Next time i am sure when you visit such places, you would stare at the belly of every statue!!

mallai penance 44.jpg
mallai penance suplm 2.jpg
mallai penance suplm3.jpg
mallai penance suplmn 4.jpg

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I have been wanting to feature this delightful miniature from Utiramerur Sundara Varadha temple for almost 6 months now, but have been postponing in the hope that i could decipher the story behind the panel. With no luck till now, i guess its best to put it to you all to infer and comment.

First off Utiramerur as a temple town is a treasure trove - its abunds in many pallava beauties and this particular temple is called the ` sun among shrines ‘ - srivastuno bhaskaraah - the aptly named Sundara ( enchanting- beautiful) Varadha temple.

As you circum ambulate the main shrine - the three sculpture panels that adrone the sides of the shrine are masterpieces of stone work. I will try and feature each one by one, but we jump to the last sculptural panel - my favorite, for it is a puzzle that i have not been able to crack. The main sculpture is that of Brihu - a saint ( i had earlier mistaken it for Dhakshinamurthy)

You can see the sculpture from long shot

The panel.jpg

The main Sculpture now…

the Brigu rishi  sculpture.jpg

But what interested me was the minature panel just above the main sculpture. Lets zoom in a bit and see if you can decipher the amazing panel.

closeup of the miniature relief on top.jpg

Ok, to make it easier for you - let me break up the key players in the panel.

utm panel central fig.jpg
the even smaller stools legs - on one side a lion and another an elephant yaazhi motiff.jpg

Am lost to explain how the sculptor could go into such minute details - look at the seated asetic, the classic yoga pose - one feet resting over the other. and look at the detailing of the legs of the pedestal he is seated on - one one side is a lion and another side an elephant Yaazhi motiff.

the delightful minature lion yaazhi.jpg

I just fell in love with this cute lion motiff carved to such detail.

snakes everywhere.jpg
snakes in apt devoation.jpg
utm panel leftyogi.jpg
utm panel rightyogi.JPG

The other two - doing penance on one leg. with snakes for company.

Simply superb, pity the story behind this is not clear !!!

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