Lakshminarasimha – A comparison

This is Lakshminarasimha, an avatar of Vishnu. Here Narasimha, a man-lion form of Vishnu is accompanied by his consort Lakshmi and hence Lakshminarasimha.

This vigraha is about 14 cm high and it is from Tamil Nadu. This may be dated to the seventeenth century or earlier. For information on attributes, iconography and the story please refer to another Lakshminarasimha (from Karnataka) on this blog site. Or the blog on Ugranarasimha. Below is the Pradakshina chitra (The deity as you would see when you circumambulate)

In the photos below the one of our left is from Tamil Nadu and one from Karnataka is on our right. Rest of this blog is about the iconographical differences between these two Lakshminarasimha and the regions.

Tamil Nadu examples (left) normally include Bhadrapeetha (the rectangular pedestal) and Karnataka vigrahas (right) are designed to slide into slots in the Bhadrapeetha.

The lotus in the pedestals are engraved in the case of Tamil Nadu vigraha. Karnataka examples show them cast. In this case, please see the back view (below) for a better perspective.

Tamil Nadu vigraha show a ‘flattish’ stomach and whereas the Karnataka examples the stomach is a bit more pronounced. As if it is not enough the Karnataka vigraha have ornaments that accentuate the stomach.

In the case of Tamil Nadu vigraha the deity and Peetha are cast separately and then they are either peened or attached to each other by a metal blob. The second technique is more common in the later bronzes. In case of Karnataka vigrahas the Peetha and vigrahas are cast together.

Now to the back view and the differences.

The Karnataka vigraha tend to have spurring/ runners or support connecting the attributes/hands and the figure. See the pipe-like piece connecting the Shanka and Chakra to the shoulder, our right. Such extensions are absent in the case of Tamil Nadu vigraha.

Tamil Nadu bronzes tend to have Kosuvam (a little protruding piece of lower garment at the back, right in the middle), see below Lakshmi’s hand. Most often they are cast. Kosuvam is normally absent in the case of Karnataka bronzes.

In general Tamil Nadu vigraha, classical ones, are cast in copper rich alloys. In the case of Karnataka it varies depending on the region.

Yet to study the ornamentation and its style, waiting a for few more examples. There are also variations due to time and those affect ornamentation, flair and detailing. Well another day and another blog, maybe.

Most of the above eight observations apply across vigraha of all deities and I have used Lakshminarasimha as an example.

Having said all this, I need to accept that none of these are hard-and-fast rules. It is a good practice to look for clustering of features before deciding the regional attribution. Good Luck.


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