This circular object, in my view, is a mirror and it is Saivite in nature going by the Cobra at the top.
The central portion, about 5 cm in diameter, is highly polished. It is more reflective than the surrounding parts and it is smoother as well.
The subject of this blog is of similar nature, except it is designed to be hung from the ceiling. The chains are missing.
There are several views as to the purpose of this mirror.
- Meant to reflect the energy from the deity.
- Shows the transitory nature of the world. ‘It is all Maya’.
- It is to show the deity the Alankar done. My personal choice.
In Hindu temples deities are treated like royalties, woken up to melodious music, bathed, dressed, decorated (Alankar), fed all meals and encouraged to sleep (including the afternoon siesta). One of the rituals, after bathing, dressing and decorating is to show a mirror (Darpana) to the deity. Not unlike what a beautician will do after providing service. The standing mirror in the photo serves the same purpose, for the deity to see and appreciate the devotion shown in dressing and decoration. The hanging bronze mirror would have served a similar function.
The bronze is about 17 cm in height. It is from South India. Going by another example I came across, it is most likely from Telugu speaking part of South India. It may not date earlier than the nineteenth century.