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Posts Tagged ‘Raja Raja Chola’

There was a big hue and cry about the Chola King bronze ” said ” to be Sri Raja Raja Chola during the 1000th year anniversary of the Tanjore Big temple.

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We had done a detailed post on the same bronze and other portraits of Kings wherein we had approximated the size of the bronze based on this inscription

“14. One solid image of Periya-Perumal, having two sacred arms (and measuring) one mulam, four viral and a half in height from the feet to the hair.”

Lets take Mulam as approx 15 inches and 41/2 virals to mean half of a mulam - so totals up to 22.5 inches or 57 centimeters.

The bronze in the Sarabhai Museum is described by Sri. P. R. Srinivasan as ” The bronze representing a Chola King, height 74 cm “ in his book on Bronzes of South India ( P.R. Srinivasan (F.E. 1963, L.R. 1994))

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Let us see the characteristics of this ” Chola” King once more

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The Key here to the identity that is indeed a ruler is the “veerakazhal” or bravery anklet worn on the left leg.

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Now, a year ago a reputed auction site listed this interesting bronze for auction with a base price of $ 60,000 to $80,000

A Large Bronze Figure of Chandikeshvara
SOUTH INDIA, CHOLA DYNASTY, 10TH/11TH CENTURY

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It is interesting to compare the features of this ” Chandikeshvara” to the accepted bronzes in the Museums in Chennai and Tanjore.

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If you noticed none of them have the anklet on.

Now let us see the ” chandikeshvara” bronze up close and compare to the “Chola” King.

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No doubt this is definitely not Chandikeshwara but a Chola King.

The dimensions as per the auction house is :

247/8 in. (63.1 cm.) high

Which compares more favorably to the dimensions in the Big temple inscriptions

There is no mention of any dates and specific in the Provenance:

Pre-Lot Text

PROPERTY FROM A EUROPEAN COLLECTION

So is this the bronze of the Great Emperor that we should have brought back to the Tanjore Temple ? Sadly he sold below the list price for $ 58,750.

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A large and important bronze figure of Parvati
SOUTH INDIA, CHOLA PERIOD, CIRCA 1100

Is how the auction house describes her. Her base price was set for $800,000 - $1,200,000 and she was auctioned for $ 963,750

There is video link describing her and assigning a 11th Century date for her.

Chola bronzes of this height /size and beauty are comparable to the great bronzes just post the Sembian Madevi era and closer to Sri Raja Raja and Rajendra period.
The provenance and buyer information is scarce -

Provenance
Collection of Ariane Dandois, London, acquired in Geneva, 16 March 1977

Literature

C. Vogel, “Global Treasure Trove,” New York Times Magazine, 1 March 1987, pp. 62-66

A casual check reveals nothing about the said bronze in the quoted magazine article.

It would be interesting for readers to read more about the previous owner but that is not our objective.

Now comes the interesting part.

In 1944 there is this interesting article titled

Gauri
A Southern Bronze
By K. B. IYER

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One of such pieces is Gauri from the Kailasanath temple, Conjeeveram, now in the collection of Ramgopal, the well-known dancer.

Both tradition and stylistic features distinguish it as an early Chola work of probably the 10th century

Gauri is the Gracious Mother of the Universe, the Better-half of Siva, half-female half-male (Ardha-nariswara). In love and in devotion unexcelled even among the gods, She is the supreme arche-type of conjugal felicity. When love’s darts bruise young maidens’ hearts, their secret prayers are turned to her. It is she who protects them from every shoal and storm on the unchartered sea of married life. Just as Siva as Nata-raja symbolises the cosmic law of rhythm, Parvati in her aspect as Gauri symbolises the universal and eternal female instinct of yearning devotion, aspiration and concern for the male. Isn’t this figure instinct with that poignant feeling which makes the contemplation of beauty a haunting delight?

On first look they look similar, lets analyse them

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There is a problem in the mentioned dimensions.

The 1944 article mentions ” Exclusive of the pedestal which is 9 inches, the figure is 26 inches in height” whereas the auction house measures it as ” 33 1/8 in. (84.2 cm.) high ” - however, the stylistic identifications match to a T.

It is pertinent to note that the Great Chola ruler Raja Raja visited Kanchi Kailasantha temple and was awe struck by it and some consider it to be his inspiration for building the Tanjore Bridhadeshwara temple. A further study of the Chola inscriptions could reveal if this bronze is indeed his gift.

This is obviously the same bronze from the famed Kailasantha temple of Kanchi which somehow landed up with famous dancer Sri Ram Gopal OBE and was with him atleast till 1944.

He passed away in UK in 2003.

How the Gauri went out of India, was sold in Geneva and acquired by the prev owner should be easily available to the auction house. A simple google search reveals the 1944 article and photos. . Considering the current cloud over Chola bronzes, am sure there was enough due deligence done and provenances verified to accord this Bronze ” A large and important bronze figure of Parvati” Tag. If so why was her past erased?

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