South Indian / Saint Mannikkavachaka / Chola period, 12th centurySouth Indian
Saint Mannikkavachaka
Chola period, 12th century

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Indian Sub-Continent; Indian
Creator Dates/Places: South Indian
Creator Active Place: South Indian
Creator Name-CRT: South Indian
Title: Saint Mannikkavachaka
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1000
Creation End Date: 1099
Creation Date: Chola period, 12th century
Creation Place: India, Tamil Nadu
Object Type: Sculpture
Materials and Techniques: Copper alloy
Dimensions: H. 19 1/4 in. (48.9 cm)
AMICA Contributor: Asia Society
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1979.027
Credit Line: Asia Society: The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
Context: The bronze sculptures of Hindu gods and Buddhist deities cast during the Chola period (880-1279) are among the most renowned sculptures in world art. The Cholas came to power in the late 9th century, and until the late 13th century ruled a large part of south India from their homeland near Thanjavur on the southeastern coast, maintaining diplomatic ties with countries as distant as China and Indonesia. Chola rulers were active patrons of the arts, and during their rule, literature, dance, and the other performing arts flourished. They also constructed enormous temple complexes decorated with stone representations of the Hindu gods.

Admired for the sensuous depiction of the figure and the detailed treatment of their clothing and jewelry, Chola-period bronzes were created using the lost wax technique, commonly known by its French name, cire perdue. Because each sculpture made in this fashion requires a separate wax model, each is unique, but because they are religious icons, Chola-period sculptures also conform to well-established iconographic conventions.

Statues of saints dedicated to Shiva, revered by the Cholas as their tutelary deity, played an important role in the imagery of Hindu temple complexes and were usually placed in halls surrounding the main sanctum. As is true of sculptures of major divinities, those of the saints were worshipped daily. This sculpture of a Shaiva saint is reputed to have been excavated from the Turuvan Vanpanahur Temple. The figure is Mannikkavachaka, "the Ruby-worded Saint"; his taut body dates the sculpture to the 12th century, along with the stylized treatment of the hair and ornaments. Mannikkavachaka is generally shown wearing only a loincloth, and is identified by the manuscript he holds in his left hand. This book is the Tiruvachakam, a set of fifty-one hymns to Shiva written by the saint.

Mannikkavachaka lived in the middle of the 9th century and was added to the group of sixty-three Shaivite saints during the 12th century, when worship of these saints was most popular. Before he dedicated his life to Shiva, Mannikkavachaka was the trusted minister of one of the kings of the Pandyas. While en route to purchase horses for the king, Mannikkavachaka encountered Shiva disguised as a sage. He was so moved by the sage's teachings that he forgot his original errand and used the vast amount of money with which he had been entrusted to build a shrine to Shiva at Peruntai. Shiva rescued Mannikkavachaka after he was thrown into prison by the enraged king, and the saint spent the rest of his life in devotion to his lord.

Related Document Description: Young, Mahonri Sharp. 'Treasures of the Orient: A Rockefeller Collection.' Apollo (November 1970), p. 337.
Related Document Description: Asia Society. Handbook of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. New York: Asia Society, [1981], p. 17.
Related Document Description: Barrett, Douglas. 'A Group of Bronzes of the Late Cola Period.' Oriental Art 29 (Winter 1983-84), p. 365.
Related Document Description: Lee, Sherman E. Asian Art: Selections from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd. New York: Asia Society, 1970, pp. 29, 32.
Related Document Description: Tarapor, Mahrukh. 'A Note on Chola Bronzes.' Apollo (November 1983), p. 414.
Related Document Description: Washburn, Gordon Bailey. 'The John D. Rockefeller III Oriental Collections.' ARTnews 69 (September 1970), p. 47.
AMICA ID: ASIA.1979.027
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, Asia Society

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