Karttikeya with Consorts

Karttikeya with Consorts
Availability: Can be backordered
South Indian Temple Wood Carving
Artist: R. Chellappan
4.0 ft X 2.0 ft X 0.4 ft
20.7 Kg
Item Code: EF76
Price: $1350.00
Shipping Free - 4 to 6 days
This item can be back ordered
Time required to recreate this artwork: 20 to 24 weeks
Advance to be paid now (% of product value): 20%
Balance to be paid once product is ready: 80%
The amount to be tendered as advance to back order this artwork: $270.00
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Viewed 6713 times since 7th May, 2011
This ingeniously crafted wood-piece, discovering in the form of a peacock, not only the seats for as many as three persons, a male divinity and two females but also a splendid backdrop or halo, represents Karttikeya, Shiva’s elder son and Commander-in-chief of gods’ army, along his consorts Valli and Devayani. Figure’s identity as Karttikeya may be a bit difficult to concede for in north Indian or rather in long scriptural tradition Karttikeya is conceived as six-faced and as Kumara, his other name, as also his class as a person meaning one who had the vow of celibacy, and hence, was unmarried. The represented figure is in complete contrast for it is not only single-faced but also has two feminine figures, one seated on his left thigh, and the other, close to him on the wing of the bird that he is mounting, obviously his consorts.

It is, however, in his mount peacock : an essential element of his iconography, and in his Shaivite lineage that the presence of a snake crawling under the bird, a Tripunda mark on his forehead and the flame’s motif on his crown that the figure’s identity as Karttikeya reveals. It is actually the South Indian idiom of the iconography of Karttikeya. In South Karttikeya as Murugan, sometimes spelt also as Murukan, has normal one face, two to four arms and also two wives often represented in visual arts like Riddhi and Siddhi, the consorts of his brother Ganesh, as seated on his thighs or close to him. Like Riddhi and Siddhi, Valli and Devayani are revered as representing riches, prosperity, abundance and worldly accomplishment. Karttikeya had a massive worship cult and a number of shrines devoted to him since as early as the Kushana period, that is, early centuries of the Common Era, but in North he is now rarely worshipped. On the contrary, in South as Subrahmanya or Murugan, and in Maharashtra, as Khandova, Karttikeya is the most worshipped divinity. Even a section of South Indian Brahmins known as Subramanian is also named after him.

The wood-sculpture portrays Karttikeya as Murugan riding his mount peacock. When six days old Karttikeya was nominated as the Commander-in-chief of the army of gods to kill demon Taraka who had a boon that, if ever, only a child not older than seven days alone could kill him. After his coronation gods and others offered him gifts and their attributes. As others, the great bird Garuda offered to Karttikeya its son Chitrabarhana, the fast running peacock, for his mount, and ever since peacock is his mount and an essential feature of his iconography. The four-armed figure of Karttikeya carries in its upper hands two mythical weapons while his normal lower hands are held in ‘abhaya’ and ‘varada’. In addition, each of his two consorts is carrying a goad, perhaps for him. His consort Devasena, literally meaning the army of gods, is sometimes symbolically seen as gods’ army and as such the symbol of might and courier of his armament. This form of Karttikeya corresponds to his form as Murugan, the benevolent protector of all alike, gods, human beings and all beings. His image, seated in ‘Lalitasana’ on his mount peacock with one of his consorts seated on his left thigh and other on the bird’s wing, has been installed inside a Prabhavali which rises from a lotus base and terminates on the top with a large Kirtti-mukha motif crowning it. At the foot of Prabhavali on its right there perch a cock and under the peacock there crawls a serpent. The peacock’s full blown tail, looking like an array of flames, covers the entire background affording an appropriate backdrop to all figures. On the top of the Prabhavali there are two winged celestial beings paying homage to Karttikeya. Beautifully conceived and carved, the statue is a brilliant work of art.

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.

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