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A Pallava Relief: Durg Author(s): Ananda Coomaraswamy Source: Bulletin of the Museum of Fine Arts, Vol. 25, No.

148 (Apr., 1927), pp. 22-25 Published by: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4170046 . Accessed: 20/10/2011 10:31
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they were printed in rich blacks and luminous A Pallava Relief: Durga grays, and were "visible sur demande" in an with the exceptionof by Gauguinand othersof GODDESSES, perhaps of paintings exhibition the Dawn, play a very unimportant Upas, and Syntheiste group, held the Impressioniste wherewe findlittlemore near Volpini'sin the Champ de Mars in 1889. partin Vedic mythology, the fact that it thana naivetendencyto provideeach god with a reassert These essaysin lithography lndrawith Indrani. Inthe poptrainedto riseabove the trivial wife; for example, is the bold painter invade who can successfully and commonplace some specializedbranchof the graphicarts and producework which is fresherand more robust of prints manufacturer thanthatof the professional and spends his who leanstoo heavilyon tradition of petty detail. Differingbut life in the mastery littlefromthe laterprintsof the South Sea period in theirdrawingand in theireffectivearrangement as clearly they emphasize of a few simpleelements, the artist's as one of his broadlyhandled canvases interest in pattern and in the impressiveunflagging it ness of repose. On the subjects themselves might be said that they carryout the thoughtof is never pretty thatthe merely conviction the artist's may be. while the oppositesometimes beautiful, a few months before his death on Commenting the ficklenessof the public, Gauguin observes, " My Brittany because are now rose-water pictures beof Tahiti; Tahitiwill becomeeau-de-cologne has proved causeof the Marquesas." His estimate him correct;but in spite of the attemptto hurry will not hisaccount intoa premature old mastership, balanced for manyyears. He aloneof be finally with dissatisfaction the groupwhich professed bitter Western ways and a wish to returnto a more mode of life definitely turnedhis back on primitive Europe; and while the others were fobbingoff their barbaricnotions and ethnologicaltheories gained at third hand,alwayswith the comfortable Durga, Pasupati Kovil (A. S. I.) was still theirnext-door knowledgethatcivilization Ca. 9th century a period of misery and he was enduring neighbor, in a first-hand search for the real thing. suffering If some futurecentury, reversing to-day'sverdict, ularnon-Aryancults, which providedthe greater him wrong,it will not adjudge part of the mythologyof mediaeval should pronounce on Hinduism, H. P. R. wrong. him absurdly are of greatimportance, the otherhand,goddesses deities. Perhaps the masculine even outnumbering is to be associatedwith the patrithis difference character of Aryan,the matriarchal archalcharacter culture. We do notknowverymuch of Dravidian at a very early in detailaboutthe nativegoddesses period,except that they includedtypesof benefias well as and prosperity, cent powersof fecundity of theistic demons. Inthe development malevolent powers Hinduism all these feminine and devotional into a were, incorporated could be, and gradually of theologicalscheme as manifestations consistent one goddess,who is either Herself the Supreme in Power (Energy)or the power(energy)inherent a male deity. As Power, the goddess(Devi) is called Sakti (Energy),her manifoldformsSaktis; s'dkta, and fromthisword is derivedthe adjective the cults of the Great Mother and designating of Tantrik Hinduism. powerscharacteristic feminine mallarm'~ Gauguin Thus in her own rightthe Devi is the Absolutein in all her and variety;Nature, manifestation, Lent by W. G. Russell Allen action,


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DURGA Height 1.5 m.)


Ross Collection

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Pauranik legends,thatof the slayingof the Asura (demon)Mahisa,whenceshe is knownas MahisAs such she is often represented, asura-mardini. both in sculpture and painting, in a fierce manyarmedform,engaged in victorious conflict with the demon, whose naturalform is that of a buffalo, but who, at the point of death,emergesin human form fromits severed neck.* Of this type the Museumalreadypossesses (Ross Collection) a fine exampleof late Javaneseorigin.t In anothertype she is represented more pacifically,thoughstillarmedand many-armed, standing upon the severed head which serves her as a pedestal. It is of thistype that the Museumhas i_ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~7i justacquired, the generosity through of Dr. Denman W. Ross,a magnificent of seventhcentury example date and SouthIndianorigin. in the usualdarkcoarsegranulite The sculpture, of the South,is in veryhigh relief; it is weathered in partsas thoughby sand erosion, and lacks one arm,but it is otherwisewell preserved, and may well be regardedas the mostimportant exampleof Indiansculpture in the Museum. The goddess is and stands, as alreadymentioned, eight-armed on the severed head of the buffalo. The figureis balanced on one hip (French, "hanche"), the other leg being bent at the knee and slightly advanced, the body " swayed." The lower right a separatepiece of stone (normal) arm,originally :: attachedby two iron rivets,is missing;the hand was originally in the abhaya hasta raised, probably pose(of encouragement to the worshipper), possibly in the tarjanihastapose of threatening the enemy. armson the right bear the sword The remaining discus(cakra), and trident (khadga),dartor arrow, (trisala). The lower left (normal) hand is held on the hip (katyavalambitahasta), the gracefully othershold a shield (khetaka), conch (s'aiikha), and bow (dhanus). Behindeach shoulder appears a quiver. The goddess wears a narrowbreast band (sthanottariya) and a dhoti,the latterhardly perceptible;a crown(karandamukuta),elaborate girdle,and otherusualjewelry. It may seem rather curiousthat Durga, or shouldoften,as in the presentcase, be Mah&ikali, Durga-Mahisamardin',Singasari, Java as carrying the two distinctive represented weapons 13th century of Vishnu(discusand conch),in addition to those Ross Collection of Siva, of whom the tridentis especially characand with whom she is more closely conteristic, w orshipped than she who is known as Durg&i nected. But this is often explainedby the story Inaccessible"), Ciimundli,CandIska, Cas~di,Kat- as related in the Vamana Purana, where it is came forth to do the " Dark One" stated that when Katyaiyani y&yani,and as Kali or MiahakMii, weapons or " Great Dark One." This Kiili is at the same battleall the greatdeitieslent hertheir his S'iva Vishnu the trident, discus and conch, time the Great Mother,' lovingly adored, and a dread power delighting in death and destruction, Varuna the noose, Agni a dart, V5yu a bow, and even in human sacrifice; as Bhaviini in the Sulryaa quiver and arrows,Kala a sword and armsand ornaments. days of thagi (thuggee), the patron deity of robbers shield,and othergods various It mayalsobe observed thatin the Devimahaitmaya and murderers.
multiplicity, violence, and charm, dispensing impartially birth and death, illusion and enlightenment. In relation to a particular cosmic deity, such as S'iva, she is, in a popular sense, his wife, and also in specific forms engages in activities on behalf of gods or men; and this relation and these activities form the theme of innumerable Pauranik legends. No form of the goddess is more devotedly To Durgii is attached one of the best known of
#Cf. Nivedita, Kali, the Mother; Sen, D. C., History of Bengali language and literature (1911), pp. 713-721. Avalon, A. Hymns to the Goddess ( 1913). *The story is related at length in the Devimahatmaya of the Markandeya Purana (translation by Pargiter in Bibliotheca Indica, 1888-1904, available in the Museum Library). tCatalogue of the Indian Collections, Part 11, p. 72 and P1. XXX.


Purnna the SupremeDevi of the Mdrkancdeya and all the cosmic deities, is called Mahalaksmi, both maleand female,are derived from her. In the goddess is called the the Suprabhedagama " dear younger sister of Vishniu." In any case, in
the last analysis the relation of Vishiiu with S'iva becomes very close, and it will not be forgotten that a well-known conception (Harihara), often realized in images, unites in one figure the forms of both. In South Indian structural S'aiva temples of various dates the image of Durga standing on the buffalo's head, as described above, usuallyoccupies a niche on the outside of the north wall of the main shrine; an example to be seen at the Pasupati (S'iva) Kovil, Tanjore District, of perhaps ninth on page 22, will give an centurydate, and illustrated idea of the originalsetting in which our relief must have been framed. It may be noticed that in this representation there are various accessory figures, in particulartwo kneeling figures performing voluntaryself-sacrificeby decapitation.* It is possible, of course, that similar figures (of which other examples are known) may have accompanied our relief. Other examples of Cola and later date are and Dharasuram,t and to be found at S'rimushnam on the outer wall of the well-known Subrahmaiya temple at Tanjore. Figures of the same type, but older in date and nearer stylistically to ours than are those above referred to, are met with at Mamallapuram,thirty miles south of Madras, and popularlyknown as the Seven Pagodas; one, four-armed, on the outer back wall of the monolithic Draupadi Ratha; another, iconographically identical with our example (except that the pose is symmetrical),in the rock-cut TrimiirtiMaki4apam.? The Pallava dynasty, to which these monuments are due, was one of the most gloriousin the history of India and Farther India. Originally vassals of the Andhras in Vefngi, the Kistna-Godaveri delta (where the Amaravati stiupawas completed at the close of the second century A. D.), they succeeded the former in the third or fourth century. In the sixth century they lost Veiigi to the Calukyas, but extended their dominions southward to Tanjore, with a capital at Conjeevaram (Kficipuram). The greatest rulers of the dynasty were Mahendravarman I (A. D. 600-625) and Narasimthe former, one of the havarman I (625-645); greatest figures in Tamil history, appears to have introduced into the South the excavated cave temple style (Dalavanur, Trichinopoly, etc.). To him and to his successor, Narasimhavarman,sur*Cf. the story of the third vefala (Ch. LXXVIII) in the Kathasaritsagara- and Rao, loc. cit. infra, P1. C. tSastri, H. K., South Indian images, Figs. 126, 127. $Vogel, J. Ph., Iconographic notes on the Seven Pagodas, A. S. I., A. R., 1910-191 1, P1. XXVIII, b. The popular names of the monolithic temples at Mamallapuram have nothing to do with their original dedication; the Draupadi Ratha was probably the Durga shrine. ?Rao, T. A. G., Elements of Hindu iconography, PI. XCIX (and cf. PI. Cl, from the Varaha Mandapam); Jouveau-Dubreuil, ArcheFor the stylistic development in .ologie du sud de l'Inde, 11, P1. XVI. South Indian art see Jouveau-Dubreuil, loc. cit. The word pagoda is a corruption of mandapam, cf. Javanese pendopo.

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namedMamalla (whencethe nameMamallapuram, " City of Mamalla "), are due the excavatedand monolithic temples,and the great rock-cutcompositionof the Descent of the Ganges (Gafigaknown as Arjuna'sPenance), vatarana,formerly on the seashore at the "Seven Pagodas"; the and the beautistructural templesat Conjeevaram, dating ful "Shore Temple" at Mamallapuram, fromthe earlypartof the followingcentury. The had alreadyat the Pallavas,originally Buddhists, become devoted beginningof the seventhcentury Saivas, though Buddhismsurvivedin the South well into the Cola period. The Pallavas,too, in successionto the Andhras and Kalifigas (Indians are still, in the Malay Archipelago, called Orang Kling,men of Kalifiga),were the chief transmitters institutions and ait to FartherIndiaand of Indian "the Landof Gold,"and Java). Indonesia (Sumatra a fully developed and Although represehting equally sophisticated style,thesePallavamonuments, documentsand as art, are as historical significant of Dravidian art; all that the oldestextantremains of imprecededthemmusthave been constructed materials. It is very easy, indeed, to permanent of recognizein the lithic formsthe reproductions the featuresof a fullyevolved art of timberand such as Mahendravarman refers brickconstruction, to in the old Kaiicipuram inscription pillar referring to templesof brick,timber, metal,and mortar;and that PrimitiveKhmer art,which it is noteworthy is very closely related to that of the Andhras, Calukyasand Pallavas,is almostexclusivelyone of brick construction.*Thus neitherin construchave we to do with anything tionnorin sculpture that can be called primitive;the earliestmonualmostall the main mentsare classic,and establish art as they still survive. From typesof Dravidian the Pallavaperiodonwardsthe tendencyis towards and to a less and and greater greater elaboration, less reservedphantasy;and becausemost visitors' artis limitedto the sevenof Dravidian experience is teenth centurystyle of Madura,an impression wild currentthat all Dravidianart is necessarily and extravagant. On the contrary,the earlier an intense and militantenergy, work, expressing combines with this energy a serenityand tenderness, and attainsan epic quality that compares and favorablyeven with the exquisite,abundant, but in the last analysisless consistent, voluptuous, Northernart of the Gupta period. And these qualitiesare to be recognizednot only in the art but in the character of preservedin India proper, earlyFartherIndian(Khmer,etc.) art at the time when it is nearest in form to its Indian sources. The Museum is fortunatein possessinga magnificent and typical exampleof the classicphaseof South. of the Dravidian the sculpture
L'Art Khmerprimitif, bodia, see the two fine volumesby Parmentier, by LUPcole published francaised'Extr8me-Orient.The Museum has just acquired,also by gift from Dr. DenmanW. Ross, a head of this period,whichis so farthe only exampleof its kindin America.
*For the sculpture and architecture of the seventh century in Cam-