Three sculptures found in Kolli hills

They were found during an exploratory study undertaken to supplement data

February 08, 2020 06:27 am | Updated 06:27 am IST - TIRUCHI

Jyeshta sculpture found in Kolli Hills.

Jyeshta sculpture found in Kolli Hills.

Historians have found and identified three ancient sculptures, including two Chola period ones, near a pond on the outskirts of Karayankattuppati near Chemmedu in Kolli hills recently.

The sculptures were identified by R. Akila, Assistant Professor, Department of History, Arignar Anna Government Arts College, Musiri, and M. Nalini, Head, Department of History, Seethalakshmi Ramasami College, Tiruchi, when they undertook an exploratory study to supplement data collected by L. Chandrahasan, Assistant professor, Department of History of Arignar Anna Government Arts College for his project on tribal life and culture. V. Palanisamy, Assistant professor of the college accompanied the scholars.

According to R. Kalaikkovan, Director, Dr. M. Rajamanikkanar Centre for Historical Research, two of the three sculptures were that of Mahishasuramardini and the other one was that of Jyeshta.

Among the two Mahishasuramardini sculptures that are seen side-by-side under a tree, the bas-relief sculpture fits the description given in the Tamil literary work, Silapathikaram . In this, the deity is represented in standing posture with her feet resting on the head of the defeated and killed buffalo demon Mahishan. Holding bow and arrow in the front hands and sword and shield in the back hands, She is adorned with karanda makuta , palm leaf kundalas , bangles, broad necklace ( charappalli) , silk attire below the hip and a breast band. A beautiful deer is standing behind her with its face to her right. Absence of the usual objects such the chakra and the conch in the back hands of this image is significant and differentiates it from the urban counterparts. This may be dated on stylistic grounds to the later Chola period.

The second image resembles the first one in posture, ornamentation and apparel but differs in three important aspects and is of later date. In this sculpture, the front hands of the deity are in abhaya (bestowing protection) mudra and dola (simply hanging on the side).Commonly the right hand of the deity is used to show the abhaya mudra whereas here it is done with the left hand. The back hands of this icon as in the normal Durga images carry conch and chakra . The most distinguishing difference is that this is sculpted as a low relief sculpture (sunken relief), where the image does not rise beyond the stone surface on which it is made. Such low relief sculptures are generally seen in the tribal areas, Mr. Kalaikkovan said.

Another sculpture which is at a distance from these two is also placed under a tree. Stylistically this is the earliest of the lot and may be dated to the 10th century C. E. It represents Jyeshta, the elder sister of goddess Lakshmi. Also known as Muttadevi, this deity is mentioned in the ancient Tamil literature Thirukkural where She is called as Thavvai and Mamugadi. Seated on a bench with both her legs down She is adorned with Karanda makuta , palmleaf kundalas , charappalli, bangles, rings and swarna vaikaksha . A beautiful flower medallion is fixed to her head gear. Though a silk dress is tied around her hip, the breast band is missing. Her right hand is in abhaya and the left hand is kept on the thigh.

A flag staff shown to her right is with the usual crow banner.

Her son Nandhikesvaran , also known as Manthan, and her daughter Agnimatha are seated in suhasana on two raised pedestals seen one on each side of her. Her son with the face of a bull has a staff in his right hand and his left hand is kept on his thigh. He is wearing the sacred thread and short apparel at the hip. A charappali adorns his neck.

The daughter whose ornamentation and apparel are just like her mother but for the pearl necklace is seated to the left of her. Her left hand is kept on the thigh and the right hand holds some fruit.

The local folk who were not aware of the significance of sculptures have assured to safeguard them, Dr.Kalaikkovan said.

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