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South Asian Studies ISSN: 0266-6030 (Print) 2153-2699 (Online) Journal homepage: Bhīma and Purusamirukam in the Nayaka-period Sculpture of Tamilnadu Crispin Branfoot To cite this article: Crispin Branfoot (2002) Bhīma and Purusamirukam in the Nayaka-period Sculpture of Tamilnadu, South Asian Studies, 18:1, 77-81, DOI:
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  Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at Download by:  [Efadah Al Arabia] Date:  23 May 2016, At: 00:00 South Asian Studies ISSN: 0266-6030 (Print) 2153-2699 (Online) Journal homepage: Bhīma and Purusamirukam in the Nayaka-periodSculpture of Tamilnadu Crispin Branfoot To cite this article:  Crispin Branfoot (2002) Bhīma and Purusamirukam in theNayaka-period Sculpture of Tamilnadu, South Asian Studies, 18:1, 77-81, DOI:10.1080/02666030.2002.9628610 To link to this article: Published online: 11 Aug 2010.Submit your article to this journal Article views: 29View related articles  Bhima and Purusamirukam in the Nayaka period Sculpture of Tamiinadu CRISPIN BRANFOOT As part of a wider study of architectural sculpture in Nayaka-period Tamiinadu, a group of sculptures at a number of temples in southern Tamiinadu have proved difficult to identify. They depict a lion-legged figure armed with a club, fighting another bearded, club-wielding man. Though locally identified today as depicting the fight between Bhima and Purusamirukam in the  Malmblmrata,  I had been unable to confirm my initial suspicion that this was a scene from a folk source, a Tamil regional telling of the pan-Indian  Malmblmrata. Anna Dallapiccola and Anila Verghese's identification of similar sculptures of Bhima and Purusamrga (Tamil Purusamirukam) at the capital of the Vijayanagara empire at Hampi lends support to this conviction (this volume pp. 73-76). The Nayaka period from the mid-16th to the early 18th century in the Tamil country was a very active period of temple construction, far more so than in any period since the decline of the Chola empire in the South at the end of the 13th century. The 14th century marked an important break between the period of Pallava, Pandyan and Chola rule, and the subsequent Vijayanagara rule over much of south India, in part because of the disruption caused by a series of invasions, and then direct rule, by Muslims from the north under the Madura Sultanate. The break up of the Vijayanagara empire from the mid-16th century onwards resulted in the fragmentation of power among several smaller kingdoms ruled by the Nayakas, after whom the period c.1550 to c.1730 is named. Far from being an era of stagnant late mediaeval culture at the tail end of the Vijayanagara empire, whose cultural vitality is now acknowledged, the Nayaka period is a dynamic cultural period in its own right. This is despite the apparent political and military weaknesses of the Nayaka rulers themselves. The appearance of new figures and genres of sculpture in the Nayaka period, such as representations of Bhima and Purusamirukam, are evidence of wider patterns of cultural change. The four scenes depicting Bhima and Purusamrga at Vijayanagara are small reliefs on the flat surfaces of a column,  vimana  wall and  mandapa  plinth of temples, dated by Dallapiccola and Verghese to the 15th century. In Tamiinadu these two figures are depicted as major architectural sculptures, 1.5-2 metre high figures attached to composite columns or piers in the open maiuiapas  and corridors that are a distinctive feature of Nayaka-period temples in Tamiinadu. In southern Tamiinadu, these two figures are shown either on composite columns that face each other, or in several examples spreading around a single composite column. The iconography is consistent with both figures waving a club above their head, the difference being that Purusamirukam has the lower torso of a lion, very like the ubiquitous  yah.  Purusamirukam is bearded, whilst Bhima usually has only a moustache. The pair is found in six temples in southern Tamiinadu, the area with the I. Minaksi-Sundaresvara temple. Madurai: 1000-column mandapa.    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   E   f  a   d  a   h   A   l   A  r  a   b   i  a   ]  a   t   0   0  :   0   0   2   3   M  a  y   2   0   1   6  CRISPIN BRANFOOT 2.  Minaksi-Sundaresvara temple Madurai: Kilikkuttu mandapa. 3. Minaksi-Sundareivara temple Madurai: inner north  gopura greatest number, scale and variety of subject matter of architectural sculpture in the Nayaka-period. At three of these temples Bhima and Purusamirukam appear twice, at the other three only once. Therefore, nine examples of this mythic pair in major architectural sculpture in situ are presented here. Two large architectural sculptures of Bhima and Purusamirukam are found in the substantially Nayaka-period Minaksf-Sundaresvara temple in Madurai. The 1000-column  mandapa  dated c.1572-95, in the northeast corner of the 3rd  prakara,  has two rows of figural composite column sculpture across the southern front, with further figural,  yaU  and plain composite columns lining the main central aisle, which leads northwards up a series of ascending levels to a low platform at the rear of the  mandapa. At the middle of the west side of this central aisle is a composite column with Purusamirukam waving a club above his head, while on the north side of the column is a smaller male figure waving a similar weapon (Fig. 1). The composite column opposite is similarly of another man holding a club above his head. Another pair of these figures is placed in the Kilikkuttu Mandapa, the open mandapa  on the west side of the 'Golden Lily' tank (Porramaraikkulam) in front of the entrance to the two prakdras  of the Minaksi shrine, that is dated c.1580-1610 (Fig. 2). They are placed directly opposite the entrance and face towards each other across the main axis leading directly from the Astasakti Mandapa in the outermost prakara  wall, through the Citra Gopura, along the north side of the tank and in to the main shrine. Bhima is joined in this  mandapa  by large figures of the other four Pandavas - Arjuna, Nakula, Sahadeva and Yudhisthira -interspersed with  ydlis,  that frame the open rectangular space before the 2nd  prdkdra s  entrance. On a smaller scale is the high-relief scene of the pair alongside the gateway of the inner north  gopura  of the Sundaresvara temple's 2nd  prakara,  dated to the late 16th century (Fig. 3).  High-relief figures up to 1.5 metres high on the wall surfaces of  vimdnas  and  gopuras,  rather than detachable images in niches, are a common feature in the Nayaka period: some of the finest examples are the women on the exterior of the Gopalakrsna temple built in the Ranganatha temple complex at Srirangam in c.1674. Further south within the Nellaiyappar temple complex at Tirunelveli are two further examples, both dated to the mid-17th century. 2  One pair is located in the Subramanya shrine on the west side of the Nellaiyappar's outermost 3rd  prdkdra,  on separate composite columns, and the other around a single composite column in the Cankili Mandapa, the north-south  mandapa  that links the Nellaiyappar temple with the adjoining goddess temple to the south, dedicated to Kantimati Ambal. At the nearby Venkatacalapati temple at Krishnapuram, firmly dated between 1563 and 1578, 78 South Asian Studies 18    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   E   f  a   d  a   h   A   l   A  r  a   b   i  a   ]  a   t   0   0  :   0   0   2   3   M  a  y   2   0   1   6  BHIMA AND PURUSAMIRUKAM IN THE NAYAKA-PERIOD SCULPTURE OF TAMILNADU 4.  Venkatacalapati temple Krishnapuram. there is a fine depiction of this myth. ' It spreads around a single composite column on the south side of the corridor leading from the entrance to the inner of two prakdras  towards the main shrine, alongside other composite column sculptures of Rati, Virabhadra and yalis  (Fig. 4). An additional figure, similar to that of Bhlma, features on the inner, left side of the column, identified by Natarajan and Kasinathan as Dharma. 4 In another cluster of three temples to the south of Tirunelveli, on the way south to Kanyakumari, at the southernmost tip of India, are a further four examples of composite column sculptures of Purusarnirukam and Bhlma. Two examples of the pair spread around a single composite column in each of the open  mandapas  before the entrance to both the Siva and adjacent Amman shrine in the 17th-century Satyavagisvara temple at Kalakkad. They appear on separate composite columns at the entrance to the south-facing festival  m nd p in the third prakara  of the largely 17th-century Vanamamalai Perumaj temple at Nanguneri. Finally, they are placed in the same location in the Nayaka-period, south-facing festival  m nd p in the second  prakara  of the Nampirayar temple at Tirukkurunkudi, alongside many other figural 5. Nampiraya temple.Tirukkurunkudi. composite column sculptures including Garuda, Hanuman, Narasimha, royal portraits and a  kuratti (Fig. 5). A further example is to be found in the only museum collection of Nayaka-period composite column sculpture, the Philadelphia Museum of Art's reassembled  mandapa  from Madurai. These columns were purchased in Madurai in 1912 and entered the museum in 1919. Though found in the Madana Gopalaswami temple, they were probably srcinally from the Kutal Alakar temple, dated c.1550, and placed directly in front of the Kutal Alakar's goddess shrine dedicated to Maturavalli  tdydr?  In his 1940 publication of this mandapa,  Norman Brown confused Purusarnirukam with the similarly lion-legged Vyaghrapada, who with Patanjali witnessed the dance of Nataraja at Chidambaram. Though the right arm is broken and the club unclear, the Philadelphia sculpture is clearly not of Vyaghrapada, but of the very similar sculptures of Purusarnirukam seen in the contemporary  mandapas mentioned above. Within the reconstructed  mandapa  is also an image of Bhlma waving a club, though again the right arm is damaged. That the lion-legged figure and 79    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   E   f  a   d  a   h   A   l   A  r  a   b   i  a   ]  a   t   0   0  :   0   0   2   3   M  a  y   2   0   1   6
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