Virabhadhra

Well worn and gilded. Gilding is unusual for South Indian bronzes. This four-armed deity is holding a sword and a shield in his rear hands and his front hands are in Abhaya and Varada mudra (Protection and boon bestowing).

This is, most likely, Siva. The indicators are the third eye (depression on his forehead), cobra hood shaped ear ornaments (Sarpakundala), waist belt clasp shaped like a cobra hood and his wearing skull garland (Mundamala).

The closest we have to this form is Virabhadhra, but for the fact two of Virabhadra’s attributes, bow and arrow, are missing here. The book Sculpture at Vijayanagara Iconography and Style by Anna L Dallapiccola and Anila Verghese refers to two-armed Virabhadra in the ASI museum near Hampi. That makes it easy to accept this Vigraha as Virabhadra.

With Abhaya and Varada mudra instead of a bow and an arrow, the warrior god gets transformed into a benevolent deity. Such is the ‘power’ of iconography. The Tribanga posture enhances the benevolent aspect.

The patina and the wear pattern suggest this Vigraha may be dated prior to the sixteenth century.

The vigraha is about 10.5 cm in height. It is, most likely, from Tamil Nadu.

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