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Shiva standing on the corpse of Yama. Carved into a temple column at Madurai

Shiva standing on the corpse of Yama. Carved into a temple column at Madurai

Artist: Anonymous

Medium: Pencil and ink on paper

Date: 1801

Shelfmark: WD1063

Item number: f.18

Length: 37.1

Width: 24.8

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Drawing

Pen and ink drawing of a figure of Shiva standing on the corpse of Yama from the Minakshi Sundareshvara Temple, 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.

The Minakshi Sundareshvara Temple 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) and artificial pools. The construction of this 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. This drawing is a detail from one of the elaborately carved columns in the temple complex. There are figures of Shiva in his various manifestations, yalis (fantastic lion-like beasts) and other foliate decoration carved throughout the complex. Shiva is depicted here protecting his devotee Markandeya from Yama, the god of Death, who has come to take away the life of Markandeya. Shiva appears majestic and full of action and firmly stands on Yama to keep him away from his devotee.

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