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Brahma figure and Hamsa (goose), the vehicle of Brahma

Brahma figure and Hamsa (goose), the vehicle of Brahma

Artist: Anonymous

Medium: Ink on paper

Date: 1801

Shelfmark: WD1063

Item number: f.38

Length: 37.1

Width: 24.8

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Drawing

Pen and ink drawing of Brahma, with his vehicle the goose, 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.

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.

Brahma is the first god of the Hindu Trinity, the Creator of the universe, while Vishnu is the Preserver and Shiva is the Destroyer. Brahma is usually depicted with four heads and with four arms. Only three heads can be seen in this drawing (due to the restrictions of the medium), but when sculpted he is often in the round with all four heads represented. His consort is Saraswati and his mount is the goose or swan (hamsha), shown in this drawing as well.

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