Celebrating heritage with Chola bronze

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A beautiful statue of ‘Sikhivahana’, a 12 century bronze from Nagapattinam district, stands majestically at the Government Museum, Egmore, with a picture of the Thanjavur Big Temple in the background. 

The bronze statue of ‘Sikhivahana’, one of the unique pieces at the ‘Chola Art’ exhibition at the Government Museum [Credit: R. Ravindran/Hindu]

In the circular hall that serves as the temporary home of this Chola statue, this merging of art forms from different parts of the Chola Kingdom can be witnessed. The bronze statues are all part of the museum’s collection but this particular piece is unique. 

“Since the eyes are open in this statue, it can be understood that this piece was made to be kept in a temple. This is very rare to come across,” said R. Balasubramanian, Curator (archaeology) at the museum. 

The flat chest, sharp nose, ornaments on the thumbs and the sacred thread with the tassels are all unique to this bronze which also portrays a peacock with a snake in its mouth. 

To celebrate World Heritage Week, the Government Museum has displayed several sculptures and bronzes from the Chola period, which is a great opportunity for people like R. Murali Krishnan to learn more about yesteryear Tamil kingdoms. 

“I enjoy researching and learning about ancient Tamil kingdoms and their language and culture,” he said, pausing in his note-taking on the temples at Gangaikondacholapuram. 

Among the collection are different manifestations of Chandikesvara, several depictions of Nataraja and a beautiful Ganesa idol from Nagapattinam district. 

The historical novel, ‘Ponniyin Selvan’, was the inspiration for S. Palanisami’s visit to the exhibition. “My daughter started reading the novel and I followed suit. The Tiruvalangadu copper plates have references to the great Chola emperors,” he said, adding that he hailed from a family of weavers and was proud to know that his community had a prominent role in society during the Chola rule 

The exhibition is open until April 24. 

Source: The Hindu [April 20, 2012]

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