Manasa – Part of a sacred pot

Manasa front

The central figure is Manasa, the snake Goddess. This piece is a part of a ritual ewer. Manasa is the Goddess who guaranteed her Manasa rightpropitiators ‘health and prosperity, sons and grandsons and immunity from snake-bites’.

Manasa is framed by a seven-hooded snake, emphasizing her position in the snake worshiping cult. Manasa is holding a snake in her left hand and her right hand is holding a round object, possibly a fruit. Her right leg is pendent and she is sitting on the spout of the ewer. On Manasa’s right is the branch of Snuhi tree.

Manasa leftOn her right is her consort Jaratkaru (lit: one who dried up a fine figure), emaciated and bearded ascetic with a yogapatta around his legs. Jaratkaru’s right arm is missing.

On Manasa’s left is her son, Astika and he is sitting in Rajalalithasana.

But for the spout, mouth and a little bit of the body, rest of the ewer is now lost. For a picture of complete Manasa ewer refer the one in Met Museum. One of the pictures from their site is reproduced here.manasa ritual ewer met museum

Manasa is, possibly, a late entrant to the Hindu Pantheon and her worship in Bengal has been traced to the 10th century of common era.

This vigraha despite having been buried for a very long time, has retained the features. It is about 7 cm in height as it is. The full ewer will be about 16 cm in height. Amazing details for its size. This vigraha may be dated to 10th-11th century. Manasa back

References:

Nalini Bhattasali 2008 (Reprint) Iconography of Buddhist and Brahmanical sculptures in the Dacca Museum

Enamul Haque 1992 Bengal Sculptures Hindu Iconography up to C 1250 AD

Martin Lerner & Steven Kossak 1991 The Lotus Transcendent Indian and Southeast Asian Art from the Samuel Eilenburg Collection

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