Shiva the hunter


Few people would imagine that an entire dynasty looked at plain rock surfaces as a canvas to depict mythology, and fewer would go all out to make it a reality. Mahabalipuram, witnesses creativity and passion of the pallavas during the 8th century AD. Here standing in the middle of rock outcrops are one of the most beautiful depictions from poetry of the same era.

The Kiratarjuniya panel: known for a particular episode in the Mahabharata, this panel has attempted to depict the story by throwing hints on various aspects of it. Here in this picture is the depiction of Lord shiva as a hunter. The beauty of this panel is that lord shiva is depicted as a hunter in various activities. Its like a comic strip, just the lower half, showing one man doing various things. Interestingly he wears a moustache, not very often depicted on sculptures of this era.

The forest is most beautifully carved into the rock. celestial beings fly across, gandharvas, kinnaras adorn the skies. the sculptors have obviously tried to show all the worlds at the same time. the real world as we see it and the spirit world as we would believe to see it.

the striking element of course is that of shiva who is seen in the right corner here. he is best identified by the ganas who are seen around him and he carries the trishul. interestingly he occupies the top center of this whole panel.


Sridhar said...

I'm amazed at how our mythology, art and sense for history merges so seamlessly and the kingdoms sustained the mythology and the pride of history. The world eulogises about Elezabeth-I's art-loving character defined the 1600s. But why doesn't anybody talk about the way our kingdom's enriched our art and literature. Kavita, I'd be happy if you can explore on these lines. It's a great heritage that our Maharaja's sustained. Please focus on them too.

Good eye opener. Thanks.

Srini said...

Your descriptions and thoughts make me feel like I want to be there. As a consolation, I would appreciate if I could download these photos in a high resolution format (eg.2304X1728 pixels) so I can read and understand better :)

Just a simple wish!

Thanks for the comment,Kavitha

ஜீவா (Jeeva Venkataraman) said...

Amazing details captured in that section of the sculpture.
ah, Now i understand that Siva carries thrishul, though it appears like spear in the picture.

Another question. Whats up with those animals depicted? A Lion, deer and a dog, right?
Any idea of the relevance?
Simply include all worldy beings?

Saurabh Saxena said...

I am still confused that if the sculptor thought of carving Bharavi's Kiratarjuniya then why the main fight for the wild boar is missing. This fight is the central theme of the story and must be present if the real idea was to depict this story.