No ordinary sink

While writing about the Tanjore Brihadeeshwara temple, you tend to get lost praising the chola sculptor, but then there are a few later day contributions which need to be acknowledged as well. It might already be well known that i am not particularly a great fan of sculpture post 13th C – but then there are few vestigial remains that are a tribute to the great traditions of stone work. We have seen a few examples like the Srirangam sesharaya mandabam, the pillars from the great Kanakasabhai of Perur – in that line there does exist a splendid structure inside the big temple environs, that needs to be featured. The Nayak contributions to the big temple via the Subramanya Shrine is notable. We will see just a sample from the Subramanya temple – well, just a spout and a sink.

Locating the Subramanya shrine is not difficult, 3/4 into circumambulating the Vimana, you cannot miss the shrine, but credit to the artist, it does merge into the overall theme seamlessly despite a 600 year gap. Using a mixture of British Library antiquesand images from the net to get you a look feel.

What we are going to see, comes into view as you are 3/4 th ( again) into circum ambulating the subramanya shrine.

There is something surreal about black and white photography!!

Well, we have come to the subject of todays post – there is word in tamil, which i cannot correctly translate into english ” menakkedarathu ” – it would mean going to great extent to do a small job.

Lets look at our subject a little closer.

Yes, its a spout for the ablution water to pass from inside the shrine into a receptacle below. Take a look at the splendid stone work on this spout, simply master class, the curves and the graceful lines accentuate the form.

Now, for the sink. Its no common sink mind you!

With Lion mot tiffs as its base, this sink carved of a single block of stone, has more to it that offers the eye. Its got an interesting tale to tell as well.

If you have been following the posts regularly you would have already known the tale, we featured it in

Feed Half of Bheema to

Once you read it, find out what Bheema has in his hands.

and now is caught as his hand is empty

10 thoughts on “No ordinary sink

  1. These Purushamrigas are charming. But in the last photo, there still seems to be something in Bhima’s hand. Also, don’t you always think of Bhim as a real beefy guy? I went back and read the great story. Thanks for all of it

  2. Thanks Vijay

    As an ardent fan of Kalki and Temple architecture, I got introduced to your blog from the reference in The Hindu.
    The information on the details was a great one which will force us to look more every time we see them.

  3. Respected Poetry in Stone team,

    As you know well the late Mr.Raja Deekshithar respected your commitment and work for the tradition very much. I think it would be in order to respect his work and contribution to the understanding of the tradition and history of Indian art and culture and to show this by referring to the great work he did. As I think you know he discovered, researched and published first the earlier unknown and un-recognized tradition, art-history and mythology of the Sphinxes of India, the purushamriga. As a student and research assistant of Raja Deekshithar I am well aware of his correspondence with you. So it would be the correct approach to give due credit to his work and contribution in your blogs. Raja Deekshithar, his family, and I as his student and research assistant, deeply respect your effort and contribution towards the preservation of the great art, traditions and history of India in general and Tamil Nadu in particular. What you are doing and contributing is great. Raja Deekshithar, as your elder and superior in knowledge and experience, deserves a right place and appreciation for his work. And, as you know without any doubt, it is the correct academic approach to give right reference to work done by and contributions from others. I have no doubt you know the URL to Raja Deekshithar’s website
    Photos of this same narrative panel of Bhima and the Indian sphinx or purushamriga can be found in hist contribution about the Sphinx of India in Chola art, and in the photo gallery of his website. I have no doubt you will do the right thing and refer your readers to Raja Deekshithar’s contribution as found in his website and other publications and videos.
    I also hope and am looking forward to meet you all during my next stay in India. I have introduced Raja’s sons to the great work you are doing and they are eager and enthusiastic to meet you all as well. Of course I have send them the wonderful emails you have written on the occasion of their father’s passing.

    Looking forward,

    warm regards, Liesbeth Pankaja

    • dear madam,

      I have replied to you in private. If you are in agreement with it, please do let me know, so that i can publish my reply.


  4. Dear Ms. Pankaja,

    Thanks for highlighting the contributions of Sri Raja Deekshitar – i greatly appreciated his work on melaikkadambur and infact had sought his permission to get it on poetryinstone as a guest post.

    regarding your current comment – without getting into much arguments on the sphinxes concept – the legend of purushamriga and vyagra padar – are very much part of our folklore and even traditions in vogue – this race included

    I take your comment to further popularise the findings of his – but to say that in the sense conveyed in ur initial comment is at best an emotional one. Though i have read his sphinxes article, did not see every collection in his gallery. after you comments, did find this sculpture in his gallery and am happy to find many more. I have added his link in the original post mentioned in this post and a tribute to his work – provided a link in my links as well.

    again to clarify – i don’t claim any of these to be detailed research works, nor are they all my findings/discoveries – i am just documenting these with easy explanations to provide an early reader an insight into the beauty of temple sculpture, thereby trying to put them on course to more serious reading. Whenever i use or build on the earlier works of scholars – they do carry a clear credit like in this case.

    in the current post – what is shown is a simple story board on the purushamriga legend and anyone who had read the mahabaratha knows this. so do not see your point to claim exclusivity.


  5. கண்டு படிடிக்கச் சிக்கலாக உள்ளதே

    பல தடவை தஞ்சை போயிருந்தும் மணிக்காணக்காக பார்த்தும் இப்படி கோமுஹத்தைப் கவனிக்க வில்லையே என்பது கவலையாக இருக்கிறது.
    கண்டிப்பாக அடுதட்த தடவை, உங்கள் முயற்சிப்குப் பாராட்டுகள்

  6. நான் இரண்டு முறை தஞ்சை பெரிய கோவிலுக்கு சென்றிருக்கிறேன். ஆவுடையாரையும், பெரிய நந்தியையும் தவிற வேறெதையும் பார்க்கவில்லை.

    உங்கள் வலைப்பூவை பார்க்கும் போதுதான் நான் எவ்வளவு கோமாளித்தனமாக இருந்திருக்கிறேன் என தெரிகிறது.

    என்னைப்போலதான் பலரும் இருப்பார்கள். அவர்களுக்கும் சிற்பங்களின் கலை திறனை, ரசிக்கும் முறையை சொல்லித் தந்திருக்கின்றீர்கள்.

    இனி ஒவ்வொரு கோவிலிலும் கடவுளை தேடாமல், கலையை தேடப்போகிறேன்.


    • ஜெகதீஸ்வரன், பெரிய கோயிலில் மட்டும் அல்ல , பல சிறிய ஆலயங்களிலும் பல அற்புத சிற்ப்பங்கள் உள்ளன. புள்ளமங்கை பற்றிய பதிவுகளை படியுங்கள்.


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