We say the main actors in the mallai penance panel. Now for a couple of light hearted posts.
Towards the bottom of the panel, just in front of the majestic tusker, we see a very curious scene being enacted.
You saw earlier the boon seeker ( arjuna / bagiratha) engaged in severe penance - standing up on one leg. Now you see a cat mimicking this and to add to the humor there are a couple of mice who seem to be in the act of worshiping the praying cat. What would be act 2 of this scene once the cat breaks his fast …breakfast.
Maybe we could still draw some lessons from this story
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A full grown tusker marching majestically is a sight that will always inspire you. No doubt it inspired the Pallava artist as well. But then the greatness in him that he breathed life into the hardest of stone and left us this superlative herd of elephants. They have been exposed to the elements for a 1000 years ( ok 1300 years), yet they still retain their essence inside this maze of characters in the great penance panel.
Inorder to truly appreciate this, we need a series of pictures. How much the pallava artist observed the elephant, to not just depict it in stone - meaning like a fixed sculpture, but to show it with grace, elegance, the majestic walk, the slight twist of the trunk, the fullness of the tusk, the delicate flap of the ear….the bump of the forehead.
Well, a friend did me a favor by framing these goats, to give new viewers an idea of space and dimension of the panel.
Compare this with a live elephant picture may assist in appreciating his craft more
Throw in the cute babies of the family happily sporting under the protective masses of their parents…not a full body, just a profile, a head here, a small cute trunk there. enough to bring you cheer. Its fills your heart with joy, love. truly a moving composition, a timeless beauty.
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