Part 2 of – An interesting Sculpture chat on some confusing sculptures

What an interesting exchange on the previous post ! forced me to put this part 2 of that debate.

Lets take a look at the sculpture under question again

Is the sculpture indeed that of Hanuman holding the Bana l

Arguments for:

The Bana lingam legend, the facial features.

Arguments against

No tail, presence of two ladies on both sides, presence of Vishnu’s attributes ( but this is not a clear case as Cheenu’s rightly pointed out there are instances !)

What other sculptures could it represent

Macha Avatar

But there is a matcha ( fish) avatar sculpture right next to this sculpture.

We had arguments for this image as well, but the depiction of the eyes and the typical mouth kind of settled the issue.

Lets see them in closeup again ( thanks Arvind once again)

Compare this macha avatar with the earlier sculpture, both can’t be the same for sure.

Varaha Avatar – Vishnu

A Definite possibility. Lets take a front depiction of Varaha from Ahobilam to compare.

The depiction of a spherical ( ok egg shaped) earth is not found in sculptures even upto 200 years after this representation. Take a look again, its too defined a sculpture for an artist to err in the shape ( for the finesse in carving the conch and the discus).


While, its definitely a case in point to the two ladies. We see all the avatars and even Brahma sporting such attendants or consorts.

Now, we come to this interesting sculpture. its Kurma ( Turtle) Avatar

Lets study its features more closely

There are some legends related with Vishnu seeking Shiva’s help ( Kachbeshwarar form). But is this and the original sculpture similar. Lets study the face features once more side by side.

Well definitely not the same – clear from the eyes especially. I tend to side the argument for Hanuman more based on these.

An interesting sculpture and how a little bit of vandalism can lead to confusions, yet some tell tale signs help assist in proper identification.

Hey,who is this. Except for the face, everything is Ganesha. But the face …Hmm, lets take a closer look

Stumped you. Well dont rake your brains yet, is this a composite Ganesha combined with Varaha / Hayagreevar ….

No my friends, take a closer look at the top left ( of the sculpture)

Its the broken trunk, with the tip holding his favorite modhakam. Just a case of part of the trunk being broken !! Its our darling Ganesha only.

16 thoughts on “Part 2 of – An interesting Sculpture chat on some confusing sculptures

  1. Vijay,
    On the last photo, I am not sure if the trunk is broken because of vandalism or just stylized so, and the bend in the trunk has not come out well in the photo. Should check this sculpture again.


  2. I am swept off my feet. That such learned discussions and incisive arguments take place here with the relevant images to go with it. I am very thankful to all those learned souls who participate it. I cannot add tothem. I can only standby and enrich my understanding of the sculptures. thank you.

  3. The part I and Part II of this post has been like reading a detective novel!! picchu odharittinga vijay!! the twist in the end is an agatha christie ending! Thank you!

  4. I had a crazy thought, the face above the BanaLingam is almost the same shape as the BanaLingam. could it be a ShivaLingam devoted to Vishnu for some reason? Say one of the several made by RAMA? [one of sand is in Banganga at Mumbai, also]

  5. The KurmaAvatara face is certainly similar,
    why no shell? Very strange. But the Matsya
    at Som. also uses a fish’s face rather than fish body, so it must be. Does it even look like a turtle’s face? Another thought: personification of the golden germ- Hiranyagarbha.

  6. அருமையாக பாடம் எடுக்குறீர்கள், விஜய்.

  7. hi Kathie,

    Regarding Kruma turtle – check this

    regarding Hiranyagarba ( you never stop to amaze me) – not many would even know about this. ( btw, our beloved Raja Raja did Hiranya garbha yaaga – which is said to deliver one from the bondage of rebirth!!). Back to the subject – there are very unclear explanations of the Hiranya Garba aspect of cosmic creation. The egg floated along with the waters – but who created the Egg. Did the creator create the egg and then get inside it, who was born of the egg, the creator’s creation or the creation to bear the job of the creator.


  8. it may be dhanvanthri holding necter in a pitcher he is a avathar of lord vishnu &preceeds mohini avathar hari also means monkey

  9. last month only i had gone to somnathpur, and i also wondered about this particular sculpture. anyway i had taken a photo of this to ask about this to my parents. but i had a guess that it would be garuda with an egg. ( earlier i had heard about some stories of garuda with egg).please anybody confirm ???

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