Dvarapala figures, Madurai. “Duvalapalageror Wardens to the Portals of all sacred buildings consecrated to Shiven & sometimes to those of Vichnou
Medium: Pen and ink on paper
Pen and ink drawing of two guardian figures, from the Minakshi Sundareshvara Temple in Madurai, from an 'Album of 51 drawings (57 folios) of buildings, sculpture and paintings in the temple and choultry of Tirumala Nayyak at Madura. c.1801-05', by an anonymous artist working in the South India/Madurai style, c. 1801-1805. Each picture is inscribed with a title and a number in ink.
Construction of the Minakshi Sundareshvara Temple complex 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 complex contains two main shrines; one dedicated to Shiva and one to his consort Minakshi, an ancient local divinity. Each shrine is set within its own walled complex containing several subsidiary shrines, mandapams (assembly halls), courtyards and galleries. Every available space is heavily ornamented with magnificently sculpted figures of Hindu deities and portrait sculptures of the Nayaka rulers. This drawing is of a detail on a carved column that represents two dvarapalas; the word dvarapala is derived from the Saskrit 'dvara' meaning door and 'pala' meaning protector or guard. The dvarapalas are therefore the entrance guardians positioned at the gates of the temples, to protect holy places from evil forces. They are often represented as scary and fierce giants with fangs.