Posted on: 24 January 2013

Made in Tiruchirapalli, 1820-1830

Ink and wash drawing on European paper of the puja (worship) of Alagiyamanavala in the Tirumamani mandapa on Vaikuntha ekadashi festival. The puja is taking place in a pillared hall opposite a mandapa fashioned like a chariot drawn by two horses. Several priests with hands folded in anjali mudra are on either side of the shrine. The processional image of Alagiyamanavala carries in his upper right hand the chakra (discus) and in his upper left the shankha (conch); his lower right hand is in abhaya mudra, and the lower left rests on the gada (mace).

Curator's comments:
This drawing is particularly interesting as it depicts the Tirumamani mandapa, designed like a chariot drawn by horses, housed in the thousand-pillared mandapa in the temple of Shri Ranganatha at Srirangam. The metal image of Alagiyamanavala, ‘the beautiful bridegroom’, is taken here on Vaikuntha ekadashi.

This painting is from a set of twelve drawings executed in ink and wash on European paper backed on to a page of Persian text. They are originally part of a larger series depicting festivals and ceremonies in the two great sacred complexes sited on Srirangam island: the Shri Ranganatha temple and the Shri Jambukeshvara temple. At some point the set has been split up and the drawings have entered the museum on two separate occasions, in 1990 and 2005. The set focuses on both Vaishnava and Saivite celebrations. This series of drawings reveals the artist’s mastery of the medium and keen eye for detail. With a few strokes of the pen, he was able to evoke the bustle and excitement of a procession, a temple visit or ceremony. The immediacy and liveliness of the figures are unparalleled.

© Trustees of the British Museum

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