Madura. Figure in Trimul Naik's Portico [Pudu Mandapa]. The god and little pigs
Photographer: Lyon, Edmund David
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph from an album of 41 albumen prints by Edmund David Lyon. The Minakshi Sundareshvara temple in Madurai is famous for its sculpted columns, and the Pudhu Mandapam built by Tirumala Nayaka (reigned 1623-59) has many fine examples. Lyon's 'Notes to Accompany a Series of Photographs Prepared to Illustrate the Ancient Architecture of Southern India', edited by James Fergusson, gives the following description of this pillar: 'These Pillars...represent one of the legends in the history of the god: - A certain Vellalar (it is said) and his wife had twelve unruly sons, who spent much of their time in hunting in the forests. Meeting, accidentally, with a holy sage performing his austerities, they insulted him, and the irritated sage inflicted a curse upon them by which their descendants were to be born as pigs; but somewhat softened by their expressions of sorrow, he told them that they should be nourished by the gods of Madura. In due course of time children were born as pigs, and losing their parents they were found by Minakshi, who, commiserating their sad condition, transformed herself into a sow to afford them nourishment They grew up, and, becoming possessed of wonderful learning, finally became the highest officers of State of the Pandian king. The pillar...represents the goddess in the act of suckling the orphans.'