War Trophies are always controversial. There have been many such famous trophies – the Vatapi Ganapathy by Narasimha Pallavas commander Paranjothi, The Srivijayan Victory arch brought back by Rajendra chola – Today we are going to see another such. The famed Chalukya door guardian of Darasuram currently housed in the Tanjore Art Gallery. ( images courtesy Satheesh and Sriram)
Its indeed a very beautiful work of art, but why would a Chola King want to bring back a Door guardian as a war trophy ? Well one this is for sure, it was a war trophy for he himself inscribed it in its pedestal
The Tamil inscription at the base of this sculpture, seized by the imperial Cholas in 1045 from their Chalukya enemies, reads: “This is the door guardian brought by Lord Vijayarajendradeva after burning (the Chalukya capital) Kalyanapuram.” Institut Francaise d’Indologie, Pondicherry. Courtesy of Richard H. Davis.
its features are characteristically chalukyan
But there are some intriguing depictions near its base.
The first is a monitor lizard, but what is a mouse doing underneath the uplifted feet of the door guardian. What is it that is next ( to the left of the mouse as you view the image) – like a tail ??. and what is the animal to the extreme left.
Thanks to http://picasaweb.google.com/gildubs/IndeDuSud2008# for the closeups
Well, its a cat toying with a rat !! and what is the other??
Well well well, its a snake eating a mouse. This does remind us of something which we have seen earlier connected to the big temple
Lets refresh our memories
Now, we have Raja Raja Chola’s masterful edifice in stone portraying a prancing lion, a snake swallowing an elephant ( see the earlier post and the interesting hypothesis to visualise the Vimana as Mount Kailash itself) and a crocodile / large lizard.
Against this, the chaluykan version has a cat playing with a mouse, and a snake swallowing a mouse plus a mouse underneath the door guardian’s feet. Was this an attempt at ridiculing Chola’ sculpture and as an act of retaliation, was this brought back as a war trophy !!