Rama (GJ)

This is Rama (or possibly Lakshmana and more about it later), standing in Tribhanga (with triple bend).

This arms are meant to be holding an arrow and a bow. Normally the bow and arrow are cast separately and inserted into their respective position. Invariably they get lost.

This is a Ganga Jamuna vigraha, meaning it is made using two material, copper rich alloy (for the body of the deity) and brass (for the ornaments and decoration). Ganga Jamuna Vigrahas are rare and the art of making them is now lost. There are artisans experimenting with various techniques and one day we may achieve the quality we see in this Vigraha.

There are at least two techniques used in making this Vigraha. The side tassel of the lower garment is made of solid brass and is inserted into the body along the grooves cut for that purpose. For another example of this technique see Udupi Krishna. The other technique used is to ‘lay’ a very thin brass sheet, almost a foil, on the Vigraha to highlight the ornaments and decoration. In the places of high wear one can see the copper portion underneath. In the photos below portion of high wear and where underlying copper is showing is highlighted.

There are some examples of GJ Vigrahas where the brass overlay is very very thin and it almost looks like electroplating. More about it later with another Vigraha.

Quite often Rama and Lakshmana have the same iconography. According to some iconographic sources, of the four brothers only Rama wears a crown(Kirta Makuta) and the other three brothers are meant to tie up their in a knot on their head. The example below, reproduced from T A G Rao’s Elements of Hindu Iconography, shows Rama with a crown and Lakshman with a hair-knot.

Sometimes Lakshman is shown with two bows, Rama’s and his. In some cases, especially in Ram Durbar sets, Lakshmana is shown with his hands in Anjali mudra.

The decision to identify this Vigraha is based on probability and personal bias.

This Vigraha is 12.5 cm in height and it is from Karnataka. The Vigraha may be dated to the eighteenth century. For comparison I have included an example from Rama Vigraha dating to the 17th century (Nayak period) and now in the Chennai Museum. Reproduced from Manual of the Bronzes in Chennai Museum by Dr R Kannnan.

Note: Today is the fourth day since I got this Vigraha. The short cycle, postal delivery to this posting, was influenced by the nature of this Vigraha and my keenness to acquire/showcase such an example.

Sharing my passion

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