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Posts Tagged ‘somaskandar’

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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The internet is a definite boon for armchair researchers like me !! Quite often we do stumble on some unique puzzles in our quest to decipher the work of the ancients. One such task was to recreate the lost paintings of the Kanchi Kailasanatha temple.

IMG_0168

We ran into quite a difficulty when we had to make out the minor forms especially the two figures found below the divine couple.

attendants

We wanted to be as true as possible to the original - but it was interesting to note that these two ganas - a male and a female dwarfs were in the scene at the first instance.

attendants1
coloring_started
coloring_the_composition

Possibly the first instance of a lady dwarf gana - an assistant to Parvati maybe?

Their iconographic significance was soon lost or so we thought, until Arvind shared this album of his capture of the beauties of Lalgudi

Though our main pursuit was in the narrative panels in the miniatures, there was one particular relief - dimly lit which had vague familiarity in it.

lalgudi

It was a relief of the divine parents albiet sans the skanda seated in the familiar posture - with a kneeling devotee on the right, two more on the top right and two more top left. Can you spot any attributes to assign them as Brahma n vishnu? Not clear. But the familiarity scene was played out at the bottom of the throne.

attendants_stone
attendants_stone1

it would be difficult to date this panel as it does not fall in the early chola 9th-10th C CE scheme of narrative story boards. However, it is interesting that the sculptor chose to sculpt this dwarf couple in the same layout and postures.

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