CHOL A Sacred Bronzes of Southern IndiaThis guide is given out free to teachers and studentswith an exhibition ticket and student or teacher IDat the Education Desk. It is available to other visitors from the RA Shopat a cost of £3.95 (while stocks last).
Cosmic Dance of Shiva as Lord of the Dance Nataraja (symbol of the eternal movement of the universe) Drum damaruA symbol of creation: the universe was set in motion by the regular rhythm of the dance. Also combination of male and female Fire agni attributes Representing destruction as well as energy in its purest form but also creation Abhaya position blessing, protection, reassurance Gesture of Ring of Fire prabha an Elephant Representing the cyclical, gesture of cosmic concept of greatest strength time, an endless cycle of and power creation and destruction Raised foot gesture of liberation Demon Dwarf Mushalagan Representing ignorance
was carried by Ganga and then the six Krittikas (Pleiades), who gave birth of the Himalayas. Since Parvati has no great cult of her own, she is one of to him) is considered to be his main manifest form. According to the Shaiva the manifestations of the third great Indian Hindu deity, the Great Goddess Siddhanta philosophy, it is only when Shiva is in the company of Uma that Devi, who has both benevolent and malevolent aspects and is accepted as he can bestow grace upon an individual soul. This is the most popular the fertile mother. Given both Shiva’s and Devi’s connection with fertility, bronze, as it can be used as a substitute in ceremonies for speciﬁc Parvati is often seen as the male and female aspects of the same cult and, iconographies which the temple may not possess. thereby, indivisible aspects of the same whole. Regarded as a goddess of abundance, Parvati carries no weapons. Together, Shiva and Parvati Vinaharamurti ‘Holder of the Vina (Lute)’ represent the ideals of human physical love. Her vahana (mount) is the lion. The vina is a seven-string instrument comprising a fret board with two resonating hollow gourds at either end. Shiva’s front hands once played How do the contours of the fabric around Parvati’s legs enhance a now missing instrument. His rear two hands hold an axe and an antelope. their form? Given that the sculpture is inanimate, what else do Shiva plays the vina in his manifestation as Dakshinamurti, Dispenser the ripples of cloth suggest? of Divine Wisdom. Examine the axis created by the ﬁgure. Which leg holds the Shrikantha ‘Lord of the Auspicious Neck’ vertical line and how is Parvati’s sense of strength affected by this? This title refers to Shiva’s redeeming role as the imbiber of poison at the time of the universal deluge of Hindu myth in which the earth and everything on Note the curvy line along Parvati’s pelvis and waistline which it including the divine nectar of immortality and the lethal halahala poison continues into her bracelet. What does this suggests about Parvati? were submerged. The story begins when Vishnu in his tortoise incarnation, Kurma, was involved in the creation myth when, like milk is churned to make butter, the cosmic ocean was agitated to secure the nectar and hence secure Skanda immortality for the gods. In order to do this the mountain Mandara was set God of battle Skanda, seen in the Somaskanda group, is the son of Shiva on the back of Kurma and turned by the serpent Vasuki. The churning, and Parvati. Skanda’s vahana is the peacock, symbolic of immortality. however, released the halahala poison from the bottom of the sea, thereby threatening the world. Shiva was beseeched by the gods for his help and Cat. 14 Ganesha [see pp18 and 19] he dove down into the waters, where he imbibed the poison, retaining it The second son of Shiva and Parvati, Ganesha has an elephant head. in his throat and thereby allowing the nectar of immortality to rise and Referred to as the Remover of Obstacles, he is also known when angered save the world. as the Placer of Obstacles. It is said that Parvati became pregnant while washing dirt from her legs and gave birth to Ganesha in Shiva’s absence. Cat. 13 Vrishabhavana ‘Rider of the Bull’ [see p24] Shiva returned home to discover a handsome youth guarding the entrance In this manifestation, Shiva is shown leaning on Nandi, his bull mount, to Parvati’s bathroom where he was instructed to allow no-one to pass. on the trishura (trident). The trident is Shiva’s most recognisable attribute. Not recognising his father and Shiva not knowing who this presumptuous Although it appears to be a weapon, the trident is actually imbued with youth was, the two began to ﬁght. During their struggle Shiva cut off deep philosophical meaning. Rather than as a weapon of violence, it is seen Ganesha’s human head. When Parvati found out what had happened, as a weapon of grace which is used to destroy the bonds that hold captive she challenged Shiva who promised to bring the child back to life. He the human soul. The prongs represent the three aspects of god as Creator, ordered his followers to bring him the head of the ﬁrst being they meet, Protector and Destroyer. The long shaft represents the axis of the universe. which happened to be an elephant. Restored to life, and as a form of As a whole, the trident can be seen, like a bolt of lightening, as a magic compensation for what had happened, Shiva entrusted Ganesha with the means of destroying demons. The iconography of the trident varies from leadership of his retinue of dwarves (the ganas), hence Ganesha ‘Lord of the the austere to the decorative, as seen in this example. Ganas’. Ganesha is also custodian of doorways and thus is seen as Lord of Beginnings. Ganesha is usually portrayed holding ankusha (elephant goad), How does this representation of Shiva differ from the one on used to distinguish spiritual movements and direct them, a pasha (noose), pages 4 and 5? used to capture evil and ignorance, a bhikshapatra (bowl) representative of the wandering aesetic or single laddu (type of Indian sweetmeat) and Shiva is a very active god. Do you think this scene portrays a moment a broken tusk which he removed in order to use it as a pen when asked of rest? What is the relationship between the god and the bull? by the sage Vyasa to act as his scribe. There are also a large number of deities and saints associated with Shiva. Although Ganesha’s body is rounded and elephantine, it is posed in the same shape as Parvati’s on page 17. What effect does this have on the representation of Ganesha? Cat. 10 Parvati or Uma [see p17] Shiva’s consort Parvati (referred to as Uma in the south of India), usually Why do you think Ganesha is one of the most popular Hindu gods? portrayed as a woman of great physical beauty, is considered to be a child10 11
Nandi the bull, the vahana of Shiva, is associated with Shiva because of often shown without hair. She thenceforth became known as the his strength and fertility. At Shiva temples, Nandi is placed between the Mother of Karaikkal. courtyard and the temple, where he marks the entrance and sits facing the inner shrine where the linga is located. The sculptor has been asked to sculpt someone who has forfeited There are a number of saints associated with Shiva. These are referred beauty. How has the artist done this? What has been taken away to as the nayanmars and total sixty-three, not including the ninth-century to represent the absence of beauty? saint Manikkavachakar. These saints lived between the sixth and early ninth centuries and helped make up a community of holy people who Does this sculpture remind you of any modern sculptures? travelled across the Tamil countryside as part of a popularising movement called bhakti. These saints would stop at each temple to sing the glories Saint Manikkavachakar (lived in the second half of the ninth century) of the enshrined deity. Referring to themselves as adiyar or tontar, slaves A minister to the Varaguna Pandya of Madurai, Manikkavachakar was sent or servants of Shiva, they composed around seven hundred hymns known to the west to purchase horses for the Pandya calvalry. En route, he came collectively as Tevaram. Stone representations of all sixty-three nayanmars across Shiva disguised as a teacher. Manikkavachakar was so taken with are usually found in Shaivite temples. the teacher that he used the money intended for the horses to build a temple. The king, outraged by his behaviour, recalled his minister and Saint Sambandar (probably lived in the second half of the seventh century) imprisoned him twice. On both occasions Shiva intervened to secure his Sambandar often accompanied his Brahmin father to the temple in Sirkali. release. Eventually he was permitted to join the teacher, Shiva, and his One day the father left his son on the steps of the temple tank as he took followers. Manikkavachakar wrote a large body of poems. his ritual dip. Sambandar was hungry and began to cry. When his father returned he found the child playing with a golden cup with milk running down his chin. When the father asked his son where the milk came from, Vishnu and his incarnations Sambandar pointed to the temple tower where there was a representation Vishnu has several characteristics which have evolved over the last thousand of Uma seated next to Shiva and began singing a song praising the divine years and probably has more devotees than either Shiva or Devi. Vishnu has couple. Saint Sambandar is often shown holding a cup in one hand and ten avatars or bodily incarnations, which are Matsya (ﬁsh), Kurma (turtle), pointing with the other. As a lover of music and composer of verses he Varaha (boar), Narasimha (lion), Vamana (dwarf), Parasurama, Rama, is often depicted dancing. Krishna, Buddha and Kalki (an incarnation which is yet to manifest itself). Vishnu, seen as the preserver and maintainer of established order, holds Saint Chandesha (also known as Chandeshvara) sway over intervening time (that is, the time not ruled by Shiva as Lord of The young Chandesha, a cowherd, used to lustrate a mud linga that he the Beginning and Lord of the End). Known for avoiding extremes, unlike worshipped with milk. His father, concerned with this misuse of milk, came Shiva, Vishnu is seen as maintaining orthodox standards, placing his strong out one day to see what his son was doing. Oblivious to his father’s presence belief in the family and caste system above the good of the individual. and his angry words, Chandesha remained deep in devotion to Shiva. His As such, Vishnu is regarded as the god of accepted behaviour and the home father was so enraged by his behaviour that he kicked out at the mud linga as well as of love and emotion. Vishnu became increasingly popular during causing Chandesha to lash out with his staff knocking his father to the the time of the Mughals, when the power of Hinduism was challenged by ground. On witnessing this, Shiva and Uma appeared to Chandesha and Islam in India. His most popular cults since the ﬁfteenth to sixteenth centuries blessed him with a divine garland. Chandesha is usually shown with his have been Rama and Krishna, who are discussed below. hands joined in a position of worship, anjali. Vishnu is normally seen wearing a crown reﬂecting his regal quality and carrying a sankha (conch shell), whose sound wards off demons and Cat. 17 Saint Karaikkal Ammaiyar (lived in the sixth century) [see p20] whose spiralling is symbolic of inﬁnite space and padma (lotus ﬂower) A beautiful young woman called Punitavati and her husband symbol of beauty, happiness and eternal renewal. His distinctive weapons Paramadatta, a trader in Karaikkal, were both devotees of Shiva. One are the gada (club) which provides protection and represents the power day Paramadatta sent home two mangoes which he instructed were to of natural laws and time and chakra (discus), the symbol of the cycle of be served as part of his lunch. Before he returned home, Punitavati gave life and death. one to a sage who appeared at their door begging for food. While having his lunch, Paramadatta ate one of the mangoes and asked for the other. Bhu-Varaha At that moment Punitavati thought of Shiva and a mango appeared in Bhu-Varaha embraces goddess earth Prithivi, who had been abducted by her hand, although it differed from the two that her husband had sent a demon and hidden at the bottom of the ocean. Varaha defeats the demon home. On realising this, Paramadatta asked where it had come from and, and rescues Prithivi and makes her habitable for living creatures by creating not believing his wife’s reply, reached out for it, only for it to disappear. the continents and mountains. Perceiving his wife to be divine, Paramadatta left the family home only to return to worship her. Punitavati appealed to Shiva to take away her Cat. 22 Yoga Narasimha [see p21] beauty so that she could devote herself to his worship. As a result her The man-lion Narasimha vanquishes a gatekeeper, Hiranyakasipu, whom beauty disappeared and she became an emaciated old woman who is he had condemned to live as a demon. Granted special powers by Brahma,12 13
Bibliography and further reading BLURTON , T. RICHARD Hindu Art (2001, The British Museum Press, London) DALLAPICCOLA , ANNA Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend (2002, Thames and Hudson, London) DALLAPICCOLA , ANNA Hindu Myths (2203, British Museum Press, London) DEHEJIA , VIDYA Art of the Imperial Cholas ( 1990, Columbia University Press, New York) DEHEJIA , VIDYA ET AL The Sensuous and the Sacred: Chola Bronzes From South India (2002, American Federation of Arts in association with the University of Washington Press, Seattle) DEHEJIA , VIDYA ET AL Chola: Sacred Bronzes from Southern India (2006, Royal Academy of Arts, London) JANSEN , EVA RUDY The Book of Hindu Imagery: The Gods and their Symbols (1993, Binkey Kok Publications BV, Havelte) MICHELL , GEORGES Hindu Art and Architecture (2000, Thames & Hudson, London) NARAYANAN , VASUDHA Understanding Hinduism (2004, Duncan Baird, London) WOOD , MICHAEL The Smile of Murugan: A South Indian Journey (1996, Penguin, Harmondsworth) ZAEHNER , R . C ., Hinduism (1962, Oxford University Press, Oxford)24