Delegation from State meets Gujarat Chief Minister

A delegation from Tamil Nadu headed by Minister of School Education and Archaeology Thangam Thennarasu met Gujarat Chief Minster Narendra Modi on Monday to seek his help in getting two bronze icons, said to be that of Rajaraja I, the Chola emperor who built the Brihadisvara temple in Thanjavur, and his queen, that are currently owned by the Sarabhai Foundation and exhibited in their museum in Ahmedabad

The Gujarat government release on its website described the visit by the delegation as courtesy call. It “acquainted” Mr. Modi about the forthcoming millennium celebration of the Thanjavur temple, organised by the Government of Tamil Nadu. It also mentioned that “the delegation wishes to take back with it,” the two bronze icons to coincide with the millennium celebrations.

The 11th century inscriptions at the Brihadisvara temple, belonging to the Rajaraja's period, record that a manager of the temple got seven metal images installed in the temple. Two of these images are described as Periya-perumal and his consort Lokamahadevi — the emperor-builder himself and his wife. These icons, along with many others in the temple, disappeared centuries ago. It is claimed that the two icons found in the Sarabhai foundation are the lost Rajaraja I and his queen.

When contacted, the officials at the Sarabhai Museum said that R. Nagaswamy, in his book Timeless Delight - South Indian Bronzes in the collection of the Sarabhai Foundation published by the Sarabhai Foundation in 2006, had stated that there was no proof to state that the icon in the Calico Museum was that of Rajaraja I. In an email reply to The Hindu, the museum officials said that all necessary information had been given in the book. They had nothing more to add.

Mr. Nagaswamy's book identifies the two icons as Royal Couple — Chola King and Queen — and not by name as Rajaraja I and Lokamahadevi. Both icons are dated as belonging to the 11th century, when the Thanjavur temple was built.

The icon of the Chola king is described as standing in ‘anjali,' adoration, holding a flower offering in his clasped hands. He wears a crown and the ear-rings are conspicuously absent.' The book remarks that ‘the portrait has all the touches of a Chakravarti, king of kings. The icon of the queen is described as “standing modestly,” with a gold cross chain and a “tight-fitting” mangalsutra.

(With inputs from Manas Dasgupta in Ahmedabad)

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