Karuppuswamy Or Bhagavathy Amman


This folk bronze is identified as Karuppuswamy, a village guardian deity from Tamil Nadu, in South India. Karuppuswamy in Tamil means ‘black god’.Karrupuswamy back

The identification is based on similarity to figure 362 in the book by P R Srinivasan, Bronzes of South India, a catalogue of bronzes in Chennai (Earlier known as Madras ) museum.

This bronze is hollow cast, a more difficult production method. The details, ornaments and folds in the attire, are applied to the hollow cast figure.

The crown and Sirachakra (not shown) indicate deity. It is not often one sees the adoption of classical features, in this case, Sirachakra, in folk bronzes.

He is wearing a full set of ornaments and as is usual with most  South Indian male deities, his upper body is bare. There is stiffness in the posture and seriousness on his face.

This bronze is about 19 cm in height. This may date to the nineteenth century.

3 Oct 2018: One of my go-to people, Krishna pointed out this bronze may be  “Bhagavathy Amman. The statue’s rigidness, and lack of finesse is typical of older bronzes in Kerala, especially ones not made of gold or silver (which are usually made by goldsmiths). I have attached a pic of my kuladeivam, Meenkulathy Bhagavathy Amman who’s temple is located in Palakkad district, and is the oldest temple in that region.

A few things to note in reference to the statue you listed:
  • Prominent breasts – Karuppuswamy is male
  • Lack of moustache – Karuppuswamy usually has a moustache when he is depicted in an anthropromorphic form
  • The crown is straight like your statue’s. Karuppuswamy usually has a side knot of hair, sometimes with a tassel, like Madurai Veeran.
  • Karuppuswamy usually holds a mace in his left hand, which extends from his hand and sits by his feet. The pedestal of your statue doesn’t indicate that such a club was part of the statue.”

Sharing my passion

%d bloggers like this: