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Gajalakshmi figure

Gajalakshmi figure

Artist: Anonymous

Medium: Pen and ink on paper

Date: 1801

Shelfmark: WD1063

Item number: f.28

Length: 37.1

Width: 24.8

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Drawing

Pen and ink drawing of Gajalakshmi, 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 Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and happiness, fertility and prosperity. She is Vishnu's consort and is often represented with four arms, seated on a lotus and flanked by elephants who pour water over her as a form of worship.

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