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Carved pillar of the choultry of Tirumala Nayyak, Madurai 764

Carved pillar of the choultry of Tirumala Nayyak, Madurai 764

Artist: Anonymous

Medium: Pen and ink on paper

Date: 1803

Shelfmark: Add.Or.764

Item number: 764

Length: 460

Width: 281

Scale: Millimetres

Genre: Drawing

Pen and ink drawing of a carved pillar from the Minakshi Sundareshvara Temple at Madurai. Inscribed: '91. A Pillar of the Choultry of Tremul Naig at Madura Representing the Dancing of Shiva. Its Height 25 feet. Mysore Coll. of Drawings.'

This drawing is of one of the elaborately carved pillars of the Tirumala's choultry, a rectangular hall set outside of the east gopura (entrance tower) of the Minakshi Sundareshvara Temple. The Temple is dedicated to Shiva and his consort Minakshi, an ancient local divinity. The construction of this imposing temple-town was made possible by the wealth and power of Tirumala Nayak (1623-1659). He was the most prolific builder of a long line of Nayaka kings, a dynasty who ruled a large portion of Tamil country in the 16th and 17th centuries. The rectangular precinct covers 6 hectares and has 11 huge towers and 4 entrance gopuras. Inside this enclosure there are columned mandapas, tanks, shrines and the two temples of Shiva and Minakshi. The temple is profusely ornamented with sculpture and paintings and contains a number of valuable jewels. This drawing depicts a pillar from the temple, elaborately carved in the shape of Shiva Nataraja, Lord of the Dance, which symbolises the cosmic process of the world's destruction and creation.

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