Madura. Figure in Trimul Naik's Portico [Pudu Mandapa]. The goddess
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 showing the deity Minakshi: 'Directly facing the god [Shiva] at the opposite end of the passage is the figure of a woman with three breasts. The legend is as follows: - One of the Pandian kings being childless, was directed to make an offering to Shiva. From the flames of the sacrifice a child three years old appeared. It was a female, and, to the great affliction of the king and queen, it had three breasts. They were directed to give the child proper nourishment and education; and were told that when her appointed husband should appear, she would lose her third breast. On becoming of an age to marry, she set out with an army in search of a husband. After conquering many kings, she at last met Shiva in battle, when her weapons immediately became powerless, but as her third breast disappeared, she submitted at once to her destiny, and in due time became the wife of the god.'