The modeling of the goddess’s image has marked different from the imagery of goddess Lakshmi. The ‘tri-bala’ – three-curves, the figure has been dramatized with, and the rhythm which a posture of dance has infused into her being, attribute to this image of the goddess romantic twist, something that could hardly be an aspect of Lakshmi’s iconography : Vishnu’s humble consort. Infusion of dance as an essential element of divine and celestial imagery has been the most outstanding feature of South Indian bronzes and metal casts right since the days of early Chola rulers and has continued ever since. The carefree casualness that reveals in the posture of the goddess, protruded hip, subdued belly and the figure’s upper part bent with the weight and volume of her breasts, are so characteristic to South Indian iconographic norms.
Such distinction in her anatomy, basic nature and worship cult apart, abundance of lotus motifs is yet another essential feature of Padmavati’s iconography that this image abounds in. Besides a lotus pedestal, almost like divine standards, as if meant to reveal her identity, she is carrying in both upper hands two large size lotuses, half bloom – suggestive of past that which has occurred, and the other half yet to sprout – suggestive of the ‘unrevealed’ that which awaits to happen, and it is in the lotus – the present, that both states reveal, one seeking in it its termination, and other, its emergence. Not merely an attribute associated with her, lotus representing earth, ocean and sky – entire cosmos, also defines Padmavati’s essence : her form and intrinsic being. She sprouts lotus-like within a devotee’s heart, and the lotus-forms on the palms of her hands define her body texture.
A brilliantly ornamented metal-cast – a tall Vaishnava crown with a helmet-type apex in typical South Indian iconographic tradition, lavish and gorgeous ornaments – frilled waistband, necklaces, ear-ornaments and arms bands in particular, beautifully turned and conceived sash-ends, and artistically pleated ‘antariya’ – lower wear, the statue is one of the finest examples of South Indian sculptural art, a cult of image-cast and decorating it matured over centuries. A perfect specimen of South Indian sculptural art, whatever its medium, metal, wood, stone or any, this image of the goddess has same maturity of form as its early masterpieces. It has the same well defined sharp features – round face, lotus eyes, arched eye-brows, sharp nose, pointed chin, sensually modeled lips and rounded cheeks, and a balanced figure with absolute anatomical proportions, especially in conceiving breasts, waist and hips and in gesticulating various parts and the entire anatomy.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of books.