Sunday, September 2, 2012

Bull elephant

At the corner just after the lighthouse on Kamaraj Salai, you will find this sculpture. It is quite an interesting work, if you pay attention to it. It has been crafted in the style of the ancient Chola sculptors - as seen at Darasuram, near Kumbakonam. Or is it after the Chalukyas, as seen at the Badami caves? 

If you go to the Airavateswara temple at Darasuram, you can see a similar interpretation, but as a bas-relief work. It is in bas-relief at Badami, as well. Both of them show a similar elephant-bull combination. If you look at this sculpture from the left, you will see the bull raising its head; move to the right and you can see the elephant unfurling its trunk.

This work follows the Darasuram/Badami tradition in another way - there is no indication of what this is all about. The pedestal seems to have kept a place for a description or a dedication or whatever. Only that it still remains empty. Go ahead, fill it with your imagination!


Quizzerix said...

I think there is a similar ceiling fresco in Meenkashi Temple..recall seeing it some three decades ago..

Shantaram said...

@Quizzerix: I'm not sure about the ceiling; a Maduraikarar told me about it being on a pillar - maybe he never looked up..... There's also a similar one in a Sri Lankan temple...

Praveen Kumar said...

This Bull Elephant dual animal symbol can be found in Badami Chalukya 6th Century Temple of Pattadakal Karnataka which was built in Karnata Dravida Style.
Chola Kings Were inspired from this and built Great Chola temples (Brihadeshwara temple looks like a magnified version of Badumi Chalukya Temple)

The symbol intends to convey that both peasants/agriculture (=prosperity) and soldiers (military strength/expansion/security) is important for the kingdom.