Cast in traditional South Indian idiom as manifests in her long sustained tradition of bronze-casting, attaining its ever greatest heights under great Chola kings, pursuing the same iconographic model : features, anatomy : figure’s height, gesture of lotus-holding hands, elevation of breasts and subdued form of belly, ensemble : the style of ‘antariya’ and ‘stana-pata’, and adornment, especially the towering Vaishnava crown, and the form of lotuses, this brass-statue represents the four-armed goddess Lakshmi seated on a highly elevated three-tiered lotus seat, the plinth moulding consisting of two parts, the lower, composed of conventionalised lotus-motifs, and upper, plain; the middle, a taller one consisting of a large lotus blooming in full; and upper, a plain moulding.
Though slightly deviating from the established form that requires one of the legs laid parallel to the pedestal in ‘yoga-mudra’ – yoga posture, the deity’s right leg is upwards lifted as in ‘utkut-akasana’, the goddess is seated in ‘lalitasana’ with her left leg suspending down and the right, placed on the pedestal in cross-legged posture.
Sensitively treated discovering not merely the fine details or aesthetic beauty of the image but in her form also the millenniums old Shri-cult, the statue represents the four-armed goddess Lakshmi : her aggregate, beginning with how the Vedic seers perceived her, all through Puranic era and ever since, though the basic contention that she bestows abundance, plenty of food, progeny… is the same as the Rig-Veda, the head-source of entire scriptural knowledge, associated with her in its Shri-Shuktas. The subsequent Atharva-Veda personalized the Rig-Vedic abstractionism giving the abstract principle a form, though still keeping to the same line that the Rig-Veda drew. Giver of plenty of food, progeny and abundance this universal mother, as the Atharva-Veda visualized Lakshmi, was large breasted full of abundant milk and was thus the inexhaustible source of life. The Atharva-Veda condenses Lakshmi’s entire being in her power to feed and nourish and hence her entire physiognomy-anatomy, into her large breasts. Thus, while the Rig-Veda invoked Lakshmi for bestowing riches, prosperity, accomplishment and sustenance, the Atharva-Veda saw her manifesting supreme beauty, absolute womanhood as also timeless motherhood : the source of endless life.
The goddess, as represents this statue, a highly balanced anatomy, perfectly modeled, rare in plasticity and fluidity of lines, manifests great aesthetic beauty and absolute womanhood. As perceives the Atharva-Veda for Lakshmi, the mother, and the Indian aesthetic tradition, for over two millenniums, for a youthful maiden, classified in aesthetic texts as ‘nayika’, the figure of the goddess has been conceived with well swelled breasts elevated to rise across nose-line, the standard set for defining a maiden’s youthfulness and beauty, as well as her ability to feed and sustain, applicable alike to human and divine females. As usual, she has been conceived as four-armed carrying in upper two a pair of lotuses, her principal attribute, while of the other two, the right is held in ‘abhaya’ – the gesture granting freedom from fear, and the left, in ‘varad’ – granting accomplishment. The palms of these two hands also have carved on them conventionalised lotus motifs, thus symbolically, the lotus goddess, as Lakshmi is sometimes called, has lotuses in all her hands.
The form of the goddess has been conceived with a tall slender figure, fine fingers, broad shoulders, well swelled breasts, recessed belly and the waist voluminous but well aligned to belly and balanced with breasts’ volume and dimensions. Characteristic to South Indian iconography, the goddess has been conceived with angular face, sharp pointed nose, cute small lips, meditative eyes, well fed cheeks, pointed chin, a broad forehead but largely covered under hair’s forepart and a small but well defined neck.
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