- Museum number
Opaque watercolour painting of the Ranganatha temple at Srirangam, Tamil Nadu. At the centre of the painting is the vimana (main shrine) of the massive temple, but shown exaggeratedly large on account of the presence there of the image of the god - Viṣṇu lying on Ananta. At the top right of the painting is the distinctive oval tank found at Srirangam, while all around the central shrine are the seven prakaras, marked with gopuras (gateways) along each side. Inner courts are filled with small shrines dedicated to minor gods and saints. Around the island (here shown in abstract form as a rectangle), flows the river Kaveri; the temple is seen as a model of the cosmos.
- Production date
- 1830 (circa)
Height: 22.60 centimetres
Width: 17.60 centimetres
- Curator's comments
The central shrine were the god is depicted in fittingly large and impressive. It is, however, actually much smaller than many of the other structures. Its size in the painting is determined by its importance, not its real dimensions.
This painting is part of an album of ninety-one paintings (1962,1231,0.13.1–91) illustrating gods, goddesses, saints and scenes from Hindu mythology. One of the most interesting features of the album are the eight major temple sites included: Srirangam, Tiruvallur, Rameswaram, Tirunelveli, Palani, Madurai, Thiruvanaikoil (Tiruvanaikka or Jambukeshvara) and Tiruchchirappalli. Furthermore, included in this series are some of the most important murtis enshrined in temples such as Venkatachalapati of Tirumala, Vitthala of Pandharpur and Thyagarajasvami of Tiruvarur. The geographical area covered by the paintings encompasses the totality of the former Madras Presidency and extends into the former Bombay Presidency, giving an insight into the most revered pilgrimage sites in early nineteenth-century southern India.
The drawings were first done in pencil, traces of which are still visible. In the course of his work the artist has sometimes changed his mind, as for instance in the positioning of the arms and feet of the figures. Slight shading has been consistently applied to the faces, arms and legs of the figures to suggest three-dimensionality. The vibrant colours and the delicacy of the drawings make the figures stand out from the pages.
The pages are numbered in reverse order from the back, on paper water marked ‘1820’. Occasionally, a brief note is pencilled in English, probably by a British Museum curator, at the back of some of the temple depictions. An almost identical work, albeit containing a hundred drawings, each with bilingual inscriptions in Telugu and English, is in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (IM 355-1923 to 454-1923). The sequence of the images is similar to that in this album.
- On display (G33/dc66b/s3)
- Exhibition history
Museum Reitberg, Zurich; 'Shiva Nataraja: The Lord of the Dance; 11 Nov 2008-1 Mar 2009
Milan; Segni E Sogni della Terra; 26 Sept 2001-6 Jan 2002
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Transferred from the Department of Oriental Manuscripts and Printed Books (OMPB) in 1962.
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: 1167 (Egerton number)