Veerabhadra (Ganga Jamuna)

This is Veerabhadra, an Ugra form of Siva.

Veerabhadra is identified by his attributes sword, arrow, bow and shield (clockwise starting from his lower righthand) and the Mundamala (skull garland).

The story: Sati, Daksha’s daughter is married to Siva. Daksha, a King, did not approve of Siva’s way of life. When Daksha conducted a Yagna he declined to invite Siva. Sati was offended by his father’s behaviour and committed suicide out of shame. Siva created Veerabhadra from a strand of his hair and sent Veerabhadra to punish Daksha. A full version of this story can be found in another blog on this site.

This Vigraha is here more for the fabrication techniques than for the story. Of course the Tejus the Vigrahas acquire from decades of worship is present in this one as well.

Despite the repousse-like look, this Ganja Jamuna Vigrha started as cast bronze and a range of techniques was used to create this Ganga Jamuna.

The two-tone Ganga Jamuna Vigrahas are created using overlay, insertion, addition and gilding. This Vigraha is special as three of the techniques were deployed for its creation.

In the circled portion on the image on our right, where the overlaid brass is worn, the copper casting of the chest band shows through. This is probably the oldest technique used in fabricating Ganga Jamuna Vigrahas.

In the image on our left, the circled portion shows the brass part is set in a groove cut into the copper part. The same ar technique was used to make the Ganga Jamuna Udupi Krishna.

The third technique in this Vigraha is the addition of a brass part. The brass shield is an example. The marked portions of the front and back images show that the shield is an add-on part. see below.

Most of the Ganga Jamuna Vigrahas we come across are from the Vaishnavite faith. The Saivites ones are rarer. In my collection, Saivite Ganga Jamuna includes Khandobha, Bhairava/Bhairavi and this Veerabhadra. Interestingly all three deities are popular in the North Deccan area (North Karnataka/south Maharashtra), giving credence to the view the Ganga Jamuna Vigrahas were mainly made in that region.

Another interesting feature to note is that Veerabhadhra’s shield is supported on the head of a Cobra. It is rare to see the shield resting on the ground.

This Vigraha is about 12 cm in height and it is from North Karnataka. This may be dated to the nineteenth century.

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