Trimuthi

A cast piece showing a three headed deity with a six arms, single body and two legs. This is Trimurti, a syncretic form of Brahma, Siva and Vishnu (alphabetical order). This is fashioned as an arm-band for the devotees.

Brahma, Vishnu and Vishnu, as per Hindu beliefs, are responsible for creation, protection and destruction respectively. It is not unusual for them to be depicted them on the same platform as three deities. Syncretic form, similar to the one here, is less common.

Trimurti’s hands are holding Akshamala (prayer beads), battle drum, Chakra (discuss), Shankha (conch shell), Trishul and Kamandala (water pot). Staring from the lower right hand clockwise. Akshmala and Kamandala are Brahma’s attributes, battle drum and trishul are Siva’s attributes and Chakra and Shankha are Vishnu’s attributes.

The above identification is reinforced by the three vahanas shown Hamsa of Brahma (proper right), Garuda of Vishnu (proper left) and Rishabh of Siva (below the lotus pedestal).

This arm-band also shows Ganesha on the extreme right and Karthikeya (?) on the extreme left. Though Ganesha and Karthikeya are Siva’s sons, they are gracing Trimurti here.

The register above the crown shows Moon and Sun symbols, indicating the timeless nature of the deities.

This is a cast bronze as compared to repousse. It is about 9 cm in height. Going by Garuda’s posture and Rishabh’s form, this is from Nepal. There is significant wear and suggests a date of nineteenth century or earlier.

Note 1: The iconography of Dattatreya and Trimurti over lap to an extent, three heads, six arms with the attributes of Brahma, Siva and Vishnu, single body with one pair of legs. The differences are normally in the vahanas (Dattatreya is accompanied by dogs and cow) and Dattatreya wearing paduka (footwear).

Note 2: There are other iconographies of Trimurti for example, Ekpada (one leg) Trimurti where they are depicted with a single leg and three torso/heads. To make it interesting there are Saivite and Vaishnavite versions of Ekpada Trimurti.

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