Nagapattinam. Height 29.3 cm. About 12th Century AD.
A long sanghati
with wave-like horizontal lines hangs from neck to feet covering entire body, the ends of the sanghati
in elegant zigzags giving it a fantastic or swallow-tail like appearance at the bottom. Ear
lobes are empty and elongated. Right hand shows abhaya, the mudra of
protection and palm is marked by a cakra placed within a geometrical figure formed by
four bands, each hand consisting of two parallel lines. The design of this palm-mark is
referred to as one of the uttama or mahapurusa-laksanas or marks of Great
Beings. The left hand shows varada or the mudra of boon-conferring and its
palm presents the same cakra design as noticed on the right. The mouth is firm
suggesting determination and the lower lip is prominent. The eyes open though not fully,
disclosing downcast eye-balls placed within silver whites. A hook-like mark made of silver
called urna, which is also a mahapurusa-laksana is embossed on the forehead;
its stem touches the hair. The hair in the head is eight rows of stud-like curls--the curls
are so conventionalized that it is hardly possible to call them curls--and is surmounted by a
tapering and flame-like cranial protuberance called usnisa indicative of supreme
knowledge which is also a mahapurusa-laksana.
Street, Nagapattinam. Height with pedestal 73.5 cm; without pedastal 58.5 cm. About
10th century AD. Acquired as a treasure trove in 1934 AD.
He stands on a circular padmasana,
which is a real lotus in blossom, attached to a square bhadrasana which is meant to
be a simhasana in as much as lions are carved in a sunk band of each side of the bhadrasana.
Besides, the bhadrasana has four rings on each of its two sides which are intended to
secure the image to a base while it is being carried in temple procession. It will thus be
clear that this image was one of the utsava-vigrahas employed by the Buddhists at
Nagapattinam for carrying in procession when Buddhism was popular or current at Nagapattinam.
Hence its huge size.
The usual long robe with folded edges covering an under-garment is
thrown over the body exposing the right chest and arm. Right hand in abhaya, left
in kataka and both are without palm marks. The face reminds one of the Amaravati,
Goli and Nagarjunakonda faces of the Buddha. The nose and the lips are done
to perfection, even the nostrils in the former finding a place. No urna mark is
shown. Hair is in seven rows of conventionalized curls, surmounted by the usnisa in
five flames. The ear lobes are realistic, though bored. The feet, hands, their fingers, the
nose, chin, in fact everything in this image have been done so very well to perfection that
the general impression that one gets on seeing the image is that it is realistic. The absence
of the palm marks and the urna mark will also speak for a relative antiquity of the
image as compared with the later conventionalized images. The image is so different from any
Northern type that it can be termed as indigenous, while in point of dating it may be ranked
with the best specimens of Early Chola Art (10th Century AD.).
Street, Nagapattinam. Height with pedestal 89cm; without pedastal 80 cm. About 10th
Century AD. Acquired as a treasure trove in 1934 AD.
He stands on a
circular padmasana (a real padma). The type is similar to Amaravati,
Goli and Sarnath Buddhas. A long robe is thrown over the body leaving the
right chest and arm bare. Right hand is in abhaya; the left is raised up in an
attempt to hold the robe and both are without any palm mark. The fingers are delicate and
slender (jalanguli) suggesting smoothness. Face is oval with nose, lips, chin, eyes,
forehead and ears strictly proportionate. Ear lobes slightly elongated more to indicate the
convention than to subscribe to it and holes not bored. Fore head clean without any urna
mark as is the case with earlier images. Hair in six rows of curls surmounted by a small
flame-like usnisa whose tiny appearance on the head is more to indicate the idea of gnosis
(jnana) than the idea that the images was influenced by the convention.
The padmasana has four holes intended to secure the image to
a basic stand while the image is carried in processions. The huge size of the image and the
holes suggest that the image was one that was used as an utsava-vigraha by the
Buddhists at Nagapattinam. May be taken as the earliest, probably 10th Century AD in point of