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A Vaishnava Relief Author(s): Ananda Coomaraswamy Source: Bulletin of the Museum of Fine Arts, Vol. 30, No.

178 (Apr., 1932), pp. 37-39 Published by: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4170365 . Accessed: 20/10/2011 10:30
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XXX, 37

Two EtruscanAntefixesfrom Veii

Villa Giulia Museum, Rome

all decoration. By eliminating fromwhichit spreadover Greece the surrounding centre,Corinth, forms the principal detailand modelling properand thence to SouthernItaly, Sicily, and superfluous he has broughtout to the full the Etruria. The story that a Corinthianpotter, in bold curves, " firstplaced masksas tile-fronts repreof the creature on the vitality and bestialcharacter Boutades, eaves of buildings" thus has a historicalbasis. sented. And the simple polychromy-red and -enhances the effectiveto whichDemaratos, blackon a creamground And another legend,according during the nessof the design. The fleshof the satyris light noble,who fled to Etruria a Corinthian in his hairblack; his eyelidsare outlined tyrannyof the Kypselidsand was the fatherof brick-red, kingof Rome, black,and blackiriseswere paintedon the bulging Etruscan Priscus, the first Tarquinius who introduced cream-colored eyeballs. The fillet has a black took with him threeclay modellers the art into Italy, may be true in the sense that outer, and a red inner edge; stripsof black acas well as their centuatedthe scallopsof the shell; and the band Corinthsent out her craftsmen in terra-cotta at the base showssimpleblack and red chequers as far as Etruria. Modelling products in Italythanin Greece,where on a cream ground. The work is to be dated in had a longerhistory period,not later,one wouldthink,than it was superseded by marblesculpture. To show the archaic of it is 5 10 B. C., the traditional date of the expulsion in thisfieldin Etruria what was accomplished L. D. C. fromRome. only necessary to mention the superb, life-size the Tarquins statueof Apollo fromVeii, whichis now the chief of the Villa Giulia. It has been ascribed treasure A Vaishnava Relief withthe Etruscan to the schoolof a Veientineartist carvedin high MARBLE slab' elaborately by Tarquin name Vulca, who was commissioned relief, probably of Rajputana origin and for the to make a statueof Zeus in this material has been given dateableaboutthe twelfthcentury, Capitolat Rome. The antefixacquiredby the Museumis said to to the Museumby Mr. N. M. Heeramaneck;it is the coarse is exhibitedin Gallery A 1 and shown in the have been foundat Veii. Itsmaterial is that illustration.The treatment clay of the region,full of black and red particles accompanying yet and stereotyped, of mica. It is now 111 2 inches high. of a stylealreadyformalized andspecks and within surmounted by a semi- by no meanslackingin accomplishment, Buttheheadwasoriginally satisfactory. The slab prelikea shell, above its own limitsentirely nimbus rising circular scalloped formedsomepartof the wall of a shrine, filletwhichendedin upturned spirals sumably the concave areto be found and is not in itself to be regardedas a cult object. abovetheshoulders.No replicas is that of the mediaeval withsatyr's illustrated the antefixes headsso farpub- The material among froma Vaisnava Brahmanical mythology, differs in several partic- Pauranik lished. And thisexample on the left, ularsfrom the prevailing type: the shell was point of view. In the upperregister, of the Hindu Trinitystand in downwards only as far as the the three members extending smaller, basesof the ears;the earsarehelderect;andthe niches; all are four-handed,but many of the are broken, only the book (the Vedas) of thesatyr areindicated.An attributes shoulders hunched upperleft hand,the tridentin S'iva's in Brahma's at Veii,hereillustrated from the excavations antefix headof a maenad, withthe accompanying brings upperright,and mace in Visnu's upperright,beof our ing clearly recognizable. If the slab is rightly out thesedifferences clearly. The artist

on thehead,lesson haslaidmore antefix emphasis

'Registration No. 30.3.

Dimensions, .81 x.54 m.

XXX, 38


Marble Slab, Hindu Theology Gift of N. M. Heeramaneck

Twelfth CenturyA. D.

as essentially recognized Vaisnava,the Trinity is not Inthe lowerregister, upper left,is the well-known here to be regardedas one of independent deities, groupof the Nine Planets(Navagraha) beginning but as representing the three aspects of Visnu with the Sun on the left and ending with the which constitute the minor AvatarDattatreya, born curious half-figure of Rahu (the ascendingnode of of Atri and his wife Anusciyd.' the moon) and snake-bodied figureof Ketu (the The central panel, divided into two parts, has a descendingnode of the moon) on the left; that S'aiva character. On the upper left is an ugra both are thoughtof as of the Naga race is shown form of the Devi, perhaps Kali, with pendent by the many serpenthoods seen above Rahu's breasts, and four-armed,seated on a recliningmale head, and one above Ketu's. On the sameside figure; on the right Ganesa, seated, four-armed, in the lower panel are representedthe Seven holding the axe in his upper right hand, tusk in his Mothers, a group of partly beneficent,partly lower right, snake in upper left, and bowl of sweet- malevolentgoddesses representing the s'aktis of meats in lower left. In the panel below is what various divinities, but as a groupcloselyconnected can only be a lingam-yoni, representing S'iva and with S'iva,Karttikeya, and Ganesa. In the central Parvati; but the representation of the lingam as panel are two standingfemininedivinities holding tripartite is unusual (there may be an allusion to cornucopia-like sprays;these arescarcely individual the formof S'iva known as Mahesa, this form being divinities, but may be regardedas apsarases or usually three-faced). nymphs. On the right, in three niches, are the figures of The most interesting composition is that on the Brahma, bearded and four-headed (as also on the rightof the lowerregister, representing N5rayanaextreme left of the upper register,already alluded Vianu as Anantasayin, Jalasayin, Uttanapad, i. e., to), four-armed,with the sacrificial ladle and book reclining on the cosmic ocean, supportedby the held in the upper hands and well preserved; and serpent of the depths,Anantaor S'esa,whose coils of two saktis, no doubt Sarasvati and Savitri. forma kind of mattress, while his threehoodsrise Brahma's position immediately above the centre of above Visnu's head and crown. The cosmic the reclining Narayana-Visnu in the lower register watersare represented by the waved bands with
is probably significant,as will appear below.
"See Rao, T. A. G., Elements of Hindu iconography, 1, 252 and Pi. LXXII, Fig. 1; cf. Mbh., III, 272, where the Trinity is said to be the functionally active forms of Narayana, a relation clearly demonstrated in a Burmese relief from Thaton, where the lotus rising from Narayana's navel bears three flowers on which are seated Brahma, Visnu. and Siva, or as they are otherwise designated in reverse order, Hari, Hara, and Pitamaha (Temple, Notes on Antiquities from Ramannadesa, Indian Antiquary, 1894, Pls. XIV, XlVa).

fishes, tortoise, etc. Visnu is four armed; the discus in the upper left hand, and mace beside the upper right,are clearly recognizable. The goddess seated at and massaging his feet is Laksmi, the other goddess near his middle may be Bhumi Devi. The two threatening male figures between these goddesses are the demons Madhu and Kaitabha.


XXX, 39

The Annual Report for 1931 This conceptionof the supreme deity as resting upon the Cosmic Sea previousto the creationof AnnualReportof the Museum the universe, or rather, duringthe interval (sandh- THE Fifty-sixth for the year 1931, issuedon the seventeenth yakila) between two cycles (yuga) of creation, of the President, the reports contains Varunawho of February, is a very ancientone. It is originally togetherwith lists and the Director, thus rests on the primeval waters,with a tree of the Treasurer, of the Staff,of Annual and Officers, life rising fromhis navel,in which tree there come of the Trustees and of Donorsand Lendersof objects to beingthe gods and all creatures. Subsequently Subscribers, this supreme deity comesto be knownas Prajapati of art,and also the reportof the Councilof the (Father of Creatures), Vi?vakarma (All-maker), MuseumSchool. the loss by death of fourof The Boardsuffered Brahman (from brhl, to expand or increase), during the year. Mr. MorrisGray, a the its members Narayana (abiding on the waters),and finally of the Museum ancient but originally subordinate deity Visnu is Trusteesince 1902 and President 12, 1931; exalted to the highest place and identifiedwith from 1914 until 1924, died on Jannary Narayana. This Visnu inherits both the character Mr. AugustusHemenway,who had served as a of the Visitand mythsof the earlierdesignations, and in fact Trusteesince 1913 and as Chairman of EgyptianArt to the Department represents an unchangedconceptionunder a dif- ing Committee ferent name. In character, the essentialsof this since 1915, died on May 25, 1931 ; Dr. Samuel since 1923 one of three representaconceptionare the ideas of ria, cosmiclaw and W. Stratton, Instituteof justice,and ksatlra, kingship;while Vis.u inherits tives appointedby the Massachusetts fromVarunanot merelythe fundamental creation Technology, died on October 18, 1931; and Mr. myth with the production of vegetativelife of the JeremiahL. Burke,for ten years a Trustee ex of Public Schools in the universefrom the navel as progenitive centre,but officioas Superintendent also such iconographicpeculiarities as the blue City of Boston,died on October29, 1931. color commonto both, which is that of the sky Mr. SamuelCabot was elected a Trusteeat the in water. reflected Annual Meeting of the Board on January 15, The substitution forBrahman 1931; Mr. Louis E. Kirsteinand Mr. Patrick of Narayaiia-Vi44u or Brahmaas supreme deity takesplace withinthe T. Campbell became members ex offcio, the of the Epic (MahaTb- former as Presidentof the Bosperiod of the composition by his appointment h&rata) in its presentform,that is to say, to quote ton PublicLibrary, of the latteras Superintendent extreme limits, between ca. 400 B. C. and A. D. PublicSchoolssucceedingMr. Burke. 200. In the earlierEpic, as in Pali Buddhist In the Staff of different Departmentssome literature, Brahmais still supreme. The replace- changes occurred. After twenty years of able ment by Narayana-Visnu the reduction of administration Mr. John EllertonLodge resigned involves of AsiaticArt to devote his fromthe statusof the God whose timeless fromthe Curatorship Brahma of all conceivable being transcends temporal creations, entiretimeto the FreerGalleryin Washington, to thatof an individual Demiurgewhose life-span, which he has been Directorsince 1921. Mr. thoughof enormous duration, is stilllimited by time. KojiroTomita was appointedCuratorof Asiatic of nearly ln iconography,the new relation is commonly Art on October 15, after an association shown in a composition representing the reclining twenty-five years with the Museum, and Dr. from his Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, Narayana-Visnu with a lotusstalk rising Keeper of IndianArt Fellow for Researchin navel, and Brahmaseated on the lotus flower, since 191 7, was appointed whence his later epithetsabiaja, nTbhi-padmaja, Indian, Persian, and MuhammadanArt. On lotus-bornor navel-lotus-born, and kamalasana, January 1, 1932, Mr. Robert Treat Paine, Jr., seated on a lotus.' In our relief, as sometimes became Associate in the Departmentof Asiatic this " Birth of Brahma"is not expressly Art. Miss MarionEvansDoane, Assistantin the happens, since 1928, was made represented; but the presence of the demons Division of Instruction of the Divisionto succeed Mr. Henry Madhu and Kaitabha,whose attack is directed Supervisor fromthe Museum not againstVisnu, but againstBrahma,imply his Hunt Clark,whose resignation presence,and as we have remarkedabove, the School and from the Staff of the Museumtook presence of the standingBrahma in the upper effect in Septemberwhen he became Directorof mid- the Cleveland School of Art. Miss Alice M. register immediately above Narayana-Vis.u's and dle suggestshis originas an emanation from the Maginniswas appointedMuseum Instructor of latter. ANANDA COOMARASWAMY. Miss Nancy Pence Assistantin the Department Textiles. 1Such representationsoccur at Badami in the sixth century (see Banerji, of visitors (347,520) was Althoughthe number Bas-reliefs of Badami, Mem. A. S. I., 25, P1. Xi, a), and Elura in the eighth century ( Yaksas, II, P1. 47, Fig. 1). The birth of Brahma conin less than in 1930, it is significant appreciably tinues to be represented according to the same formula up to the present day, and it occurs in Farther India as well as in India proper; it is interof enforcedleisuredue to unemploythese times esting to observe that the literary and iconographic sources taken together of personsdefinitely seeking mentthat the number demonstrate a persistence in time for the idea of the Creator reclining on the Cosmic waters amounting to three or four millennia, while the geographical and the increased brought instruction materially is also distribution covers half a continent. It just possible that the Euroto pean representationsof the Tree of Jesse have been affected by the Indian records of the Divisionof Instruction attendance representations (see my Tree of Jesse and Indian sources or parallels, their highest total,- 111 5 1. The decrease in ArtBulletin, Vol. Xl).