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Posts Tagged ‘thirunelvelil ’

In part 1, we compared David poised to strike with the sculpture of Karna in Nellaiappar temple. We continue the narration today by viewing the scene from the view of Protagonist of the battle - the mighty Arjuna ( my personal preferences are with Karna though) - to recap we are in day 16 of the great battle @ Kurukshetra. Previously having sat out the great battle for 10 days, Karna being kept out by the guile of the great Bhishmar , has set his eyes to slay Arjuna - but from day 11 to 16 - the battle flows with the Pandavas gaining the upper hand thanks mostly to the Krishna. Krishna is said to have praised Karna in front of Arjuna thus

“Do not. O mighty-armed one, disregard Karna, that ornament of battle! Karna is possessed of might. He is proud and accomplished in weapons. He is a Maharatha. He is accomplished (in the ways of battle) and conversant with all modes of warfare. He is also well-acquainted with all that suits place and time. What need is there of saying much? Hear in brief, O son of Pandu! I regard the mighty car-warrior Karna as thy equal, or perhaps, thy superior! With the greatest care and resolution shouldn’t thou slay him in great battle. In energy he is equal to Agni. As regards speed, he is equal to the impetuosity of the wind. In wrath, he resembles the Destroyer himself. Endued with might, he resembles a lion in the formation of his body. He is eight rathis in stature. His arms are large. His chest is broad. He is invincible. He is sensitive. He is a hero. He is, again, the foremost of heroes. He is exceedingly handsome. Possessed of every accomplishment of a warrior, he is a dispeller of the fears of friends.”

Lets us see the classic faceoff between the two.

karna
arjuna

Now, Arjuna knows that the Nagastra has been taken up by Karna, let us see his expression ( not to mention his long beard and it seems to be tied up in a knot at the end as well)

face
face+expression

The overall poise is that of someone who knows that he has no answer to the bolt that is going to be hurled at him, his left leg is slightly back and his body tilted a bit - on the back foot.

kneecaps
kneecaps+2

You can compare the torso of the two, and you can see that Arjuna’s chest is relaxed.

torso
torso+1

Compare it to the torso of Karna, with its bulging chest and exposed ribs

karna_ribs

Yet, Arjuna has an arrow out of his quiver in his hand. Maybe, he is confident that Krishna would find a way to save him !

arrow
arrow+support

The portrayal is useful to compare against David.

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michelangelo-sculptures-13
4545454
645b
david_hand_detail

Ofcourse, the detailing of the knee caps of the ligament in hard granite of Arjuna is outstanding

kneecap+ligament
kneecaps
kneecaps+2

For such a colossal work in stone, the way he holds the arrow shaft , the ribs of the feather on the shaft, the posture of the fingers and the detailing of the nails !

fingers+nail+shaft

Definitely time stands still as the master sculptor sculpted his scene in stone.

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Its the season for contest and ….Got talent shows. These shows are filled with lots of talent and lots more glitz where the participants are pitched against one another and in a sequence of exponentially increasing odds they perform mind blowing feats to arrive at the prized price. Today we are going to see a similar contest but among sculptors - in stone. The stage is the famed Nellaiappar Temple of Tirunelveli. For the record, Me and Arvind went in without much expectations hoping to be outside in time for the famed Iruttukadai shop to open !

nellaiappar+sanctum

The raised platform with a distinctly post 15th C doorguardians ( I know I know - the nucleus of the temple is dated to 7th C CE..but) didn’t evoke much of a response, initially at least.

doorguardian

For as we went around to the steps, the sight blew us away.

doorguardian+left
monolith

The entire block is carved out of a monolithic stone, with the doorguardian in front and an extremely complex array of pillars of differing thickness in the back, and that was not all. Row after row of astounding pillars lined up as if for inspection in a guard of honor.

row+pillars

To top it, these were the famed musical pillars !! each producing a distinct note ( that they have survived so long with every visitor trying to show their musical prowess on them itself is worth an applause ) , but the sheer labour that went into these stumped us.

massive

When we say massive, we mean it. Not convinced, take a look.

size

and by massive, it doesn’t just mean gargantuan size alone. Take a look at the art on display !

cluster
design
different+shapes
pillar+cluster

This is not some trick sculpting, if you do not believe that its all carved out of a single block of stone. Take another look. The grain of the stone runs right through the different pillars.

grain+of+stone
stone+grain

There were a few more pillar clusters which seemed a bit easier on the chest and breathing ( with all the wows and ooh and aahs)

simple

.

mind+boggling

But, as in an expert rendition of carnatic music, we did not realise that the sculptor had lulled us into a false sense of mediocrity, to think that this was ordinary compared to the rest - but then, he had one or two more tricks to show us.

Watch closely towards the base. do you spot it?

something

Yes, when he was busy reducing the rock, he had left enough material to carve a ball inside the pillar, so designed that it cannot roll out ( also means it was not introduced later !!)

stone+ball

Well, i said a trick or two !! test your spotting skills

mind+boggling

Did you spot it?

designer+pillar
designer+pillar+notice

Yes, hewing a composite multiple fluted pillar that would emanate different musical notes while shaping a solid stone ball was not challenging enough for him - he sculpted a stone squirrel as well on the inside of one of the pillars.

stone+squirrel

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