29/01/2015

ELANGAKODI AIYANAR SHRINE

ETHNOFLORENCE

n.878

CONTENT

 

Elangakodi Ayyanar  Shrine Tamil Nadu

 

Photo and Text courtesy of

 

David Van der Elst

 

 

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BOOK OF THE WEEK

 

THE VILLAGE GODS OF SOUTH INDIA

 

Whitehead, Henry

 

Calcutta :

 

Association Press ; London ; Toronto : H. Milford

1921

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Massive terracotta horses have been built by Tamil villagers in south India for thousands of years. 

 

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Pen-and-ink and wash drawing by Philip Meadows Taylor of terracotta horses at a temple in Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu, dated 1834. The image is inscribed on the front in ink: 'Clay Horses at a Hindoo Temple. No. 52.'

 

 

Stephen Inglis states that "technically they are the most ambitious achivements in clay  found in India and by any survey probably the largest hollow clay images to be created anywhere"

 

http://ethnoflorence.skynetblogs.be/archive/2012/10/11/ro...

 

AIYANAR VILLAGE GODS OF SOUTH INDIA TAG in Ethnoflorence's site

http://ethnoflorence.skynetblogs.be/village-gods-of-south...

 

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Elangakodi Ayyanar Open Air Shrine

Photo and Text courtesy of

David Van der Elst

Bruxelles

http://ethnoflorence.skynetblogs.be/collection-david-van-...

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&

http://santhipriyaspages.blogspot.be/2015/02/pachchaiyamm...

 

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The shrine is situated 9 Km south from

Pudukottai,

28 Km north from Karaikudi,

Tamil Nadu.

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The priests of the shrine are not Brahmin, noteworthy is the local
15 days Vaigashi festival (May/June) in which are sacrificed goats.

 

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Rows of old Terracotta zoomorphic offering

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Elephant sculpture

(detail)

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Horse with guardian sculpture

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Elephant sculpture

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Sacred tree with votive terracotta figures

frontal view

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Sacred tree side view, Perikarapar sculpture on the left, Aiyanar legs on the right

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Under the Sacred tree

Aiyanar

is worshiped with others local gods and hindu classic deities :

Perikarapar sculpture (A)
4 Ganesh (Ganapati) sculptures (B,F,G,H)
Pachaiamman (Parvati local form) sculpture (C)
Kamalai sculpture (E)
Areklamtar sculpture (I)
2 Nagas sculptures (J)

behind them a mess of terracotta anthropomorphic offering

 

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Sacred tree, votive zoomorphic sculptures,

behind the Bell is located the place for Puja

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In a little circle  near the entry of the principal shrine is located the place in which  sacrifices are done during the Vaigashi Festival festival

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Another view of the shrine with a larger than life horse with guardian sculpture, one huge  elephant sculpture and a row of old terracotta horses and cows.

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Shrine's details

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PHOTO DAVID VAN DER ELST

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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BOOK OF THE WEEK

THE VILLAGE GODS OF SOUTH INDIA

 

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Whitehead, Henry

Calcutta :

Association Press ; London ; Toronto : H. Milford

(1921)

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CLAY HORSES OF AIYANAR

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GRAMA DEVATA SHRINE

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INTERIOR OF A SHRINE WITH SRONES PROBABLY SIMBOL OF THE SEVEN SISTERS

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KARAGAM

 

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Pujari with Arati

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Stone symbol of Potu-Razu with stake for  impaling animals

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RUDE SHRINE AT ROOT

OF TREE

WITH BARE AS SYMBOL

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RUDE SHRINE

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MINACHI AND THE SEVEN SISTER, CUDDALORE

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Buffalo sacrifice

Antedating the Aryan invasion, and predating their introduction of Hinduism with its complex pantheon of deities in the second millemium B.C.,  the typical and unique workship of the VILLAGE GODS is probably the most ancient
form of Indian indigenous religious beliefs and costume system, praticated by the old and originary inhabitants of the place, the Dravidians.

These sistem of beliefs is based on a conception in which the world is peopled by a great moltitude of good and bad spirits that are the cause of all the diseases and disasters.

In this kind of ancient and primitive religion the object of the people was to propitiate these innumerable legions of spirits, each village was under the protection of one guardian deity, at once hero,protector, councilor.

The village deities were ALMOST UNIVERSALLY WORSHIPPED WITH ANIMAL SACRIFICIES, Buffaloes, sheep, goats, pigs, and fowls are freely offered to them, sometimes in thousands.

The buffalo-sacrifice has special features of its own, and seems to retain TRACES OF A PRIMITIVE FORM OF WORSHIP , which may
possibly have originated in TOTEMISM.

EVERY VILLAGE  in South India is believed by the people TO BE SURROUNDED BY EVIL SPIRITS, who are always on the watch to
inflict diseases and misfortunes of all kinds on the unhappy villagers.

So the poor people turn for PROTECTION TO THE GUARDIAN DEITIES OF THEIR VILLAGE, whose function it is TO WARD OFF THESE EVIL SPIRITS AND PROTECT THE VILLAGE FROM EPIDEMICS OF CHOLERA, SMALL POX, OR FEVER , from cattle disease, failure of crops, childlessness, fires, and all the manifold ills that flesh is heir to in an Indian village.

THE SOLE OBJECT , then, OF THE WORSHIP OF THESE VILLAGE DEITIES IS TO PROPITIATE THEM AND TO AVERT THEIR WRATH.

In the Telugu country the potters and the washermen, who are Sudras of low caste, often officiate as priests, and have an important part, especially in the buffalo sacrifices, that is taken by the Malas and Madigas. 

A Madiga nearly always kills the buffalo and performs the unpleasant ceremonies connected with the sprinkling of the blood, and there are certain families among the Malas, called Asadis, who are the nearest approach to a priestly caste in connexion with the village deities.

They have the hereditary right to assist at the sacrifices, to chant the praises of the goddess while the sacrifices are being offered, and to perform certain ceremonies.

But in the more primitive villages, where, it may be presumed, primitive customs prevail, it is remarkable how great a variety of people take an official part in the worship : the potter, the carpenter, the toddy-drawer, the washerman, Malas and Madigas, and even the Brahman Karnam or village accountant, have all their parts to play. 

We  will take a village in the Telugu country, the village deity, in this particular village, is called Peddamma,

THE GREAT MOTHER

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The epidemic is a sign that SHE IS ANGRY AND REQUIRES TO BE PROPITIATED.

So a collection is made for the expenses of a festival, or a rich man offers to pay all expenses, and a propitious day is selected, which in this village may be any day except Sunday or Thursday.

Then the potter of the village is instructed to make a CLAY IMAGE OF THE GREAT MOTHER, and the carpenter to make a small wooden CART, and a BUFFALO is chosen as the chief victim for the SACRIFICE.

When the appointed day arrives, the buffalo is sprinkled all over with yellow turmeric while garlands of margosa leaves are hung round its neck and tied to its horns.

At about two p.m. it is conducted round the village in procession to the sound of music and the beating of tom-toms.

The two sections of the Outcastes, the Malas and the Madigas, take the leading Part in the sacrifice, and conduct the buffalo from house to house.

One Madiga goes on ahead, with a tom tom, to announce that "the buffalo devoted to the goddess is coming."

The people then come out from their houses, bow down to worship the buffalo, and pour water over his feet, and also give some food to the Malas and Madigas, who form the procession.

By about eight p.m. this ceremony is finished, and the buffalo is brought to an open spot in the village and tied up near a small canopy of cloths supported on bamboo poles,which has been set up for the reception of the goddess.

All the villagers then assemble at the same place, and at about ten p.m. they go in procession, with music and tom toms and torches, to the house of the potter, where the clay image is ready prepared.

On arriving at his house, they pour about two and a half measures of rice on the ground and put the image on the top of it, adorned with a new cloth and jewels.

All who are present then worship the image, and a ram is killed, its head being cut off with a large chopper, and the blood sprinkled on the top of the image, as a kind of consecration.

The potter then takes up the idol and carries it out of the house for a little distance, and gives it to a washerman, who carries it to the place where the canopy has been set up to receive it.

During the procession the people flourish sticks and swords and spears to keep off the evil spirits, and, for the same purpose, cut limes in half and throw them up in the air.

The idea is that the greedy demons will clutch at the golden limes and carry them off, and so be diverted from any attack on the man who carries the image.

When the idol has been duly deposited under the canopy, another procession is made to the house of the toddy-drawer.
 
He is the man who climbs the palm trees and draws off the juice which is made into toddy.

At his house some rice is cooked, and a pot of toddy and a bottle of arrack are produced and duly smeared with yellow turmeric and a red paste, constantly used in religious worship among the Hindus and called kimkuma^

The cooked rice is put in front of the pot of toddy and bottle of arrack, a ram is killed in sacrifice, and then the toddy-drawer worships the pot and the bottle.

The village officials pay him his fee, three-eighths of a measure of rice, three-eighths of a measure of cholam 2 and four annas, and then he carries the pot and bottle in proces sion, and places them under the canopy near the image of
Peddamma.

Then comes yet another procession.

The people go off to the house of the chief official, the Reddy, and bring from it some cooked rice in a large earthenware pot, some sweet cakes, and a lamb.

A large quantity of margosa leaves are spread on the ground in front of the image, the rice from the Reddy s house is
placed upon them in a heap, and a large heap of rice, from one hundred to three hundred measures, according to the amount of the subscriptions, is poured in a heap a little farther away.

All these elaborate proceedings form only the preparations for the great sacrifice, which is now about to begin.

The lamb is first worshipped and then sacrificed by having its throat cut and its head cut off.

A ram is next brought and stood over the first large heap of rice, and is there cut in two, through the back, with a heavy chopper, by one of the village washermen.

The blood pours out over the rice and soaks it through.

One half of the ram is then taken up and carried to a spot a few yards off, where a body of Asadis are standing ready to begin their part in the ceremonies.

The other half of the ram is left lying on the rice. The Asadis then begin to sing a long chant in honour of the deity.

Meanwhile, the chief sacrifice is made.

The buffalo is brought forward, and the Madigas kill it by cutting its throat (in some villages its head is cut off).

Some water is first poured over the blood, and then the pool of blood and water is covered up carefully with earth, lest any outsider from another village should come and steal it.

The idea is that if any man from another village should take away and carry home even a small part of the blood, that village would get the benefit of the sacrifice.

The head of the buffalo is then cut off and placed before the image, with a layer of fat from its entrails smeared over the fore head and face, so as to cover entirely the eyes and nose.

The right foreleg is cut off and placed crosswise in the mouth, some boiled rice is placed upon the fat on the forehead, and on it an earthenware lamp, which is kept alight during the whole of the festival.

Why the right foreleg should be cut off and placed in the mouth, and what the meaning of it is, the author never been able to discover nor can to conjecture.

When he asked the villagers, they only reply,

"It is the custom."

But the author  found the custom prevailing in all parts of South India, among Tamils, Telugus, and Canarese alike, and he has been informed that exactly the same custom prevails in the Southern Maratha country.

It seems to be a very ancient part of the ritual of sacrifice prevailing in South India.

Some of the rice from the heap, over which the ram was sacrificed and its blood poured out, is taken and put in a flat basket, and some of the entrails of the buffalo are mixed with it.

The intestines of the lamb, which was first killed, are put over the neck of a Mala, and its liver is placed in his mouth,  while another Mala takes the basket of rice soaked in blood and mixed with the entrails of the buffalo.

A procession is then formed with these two weird figures in the middle.

The man with the liver in his mouth is worked up into a state of frantic excitement and is supposed to be inspired by
the goddess.

He has to be held by men on either side of him, or kept fast with ropes, to prevent his rushing away ; and all round him are the ryots, the small farmers, and the Malas, flourishing clubs and swords,and throwing limes into the air, to drive
away the evil spirits.

As the procession moves through the village, the people shout out " Food ! Food ! " and the man who carries the basket sprinkles the rice soaked in blood over the houses to protect them from evil spirits.

As he walks along, he shouts out, at intervals, that he sees the evil spirits, and falls down in a faint.

Then lambs have to be sacrificed on the spot and limes thrown into the air and cocoanuts broken, to drive away the demons and bring the man to his senses.

And so the procession moves through the village, amid frantic excitement, till, as the day dawns, they return to the canopy, where the great mother is peacefully reposing.

At about ten a.m. a fresh round of ceremonies begins.

Some meat is cut from the carcass of the buffalo and cooked with some cholam, and then given to five little Mala boys, siddhalu, the innocents, as they are called.

They are all covered over with a large cloth, and eat the food entirely concealed from view, probably to prevent the evil spirits from seeing them, or the evil eye from striking them.

And then some more food is served to the Asadis, who have been for many hours, during the ceremonies of the night, chanting the praises of the goddess.

After this the villagers bring their offerings.

The Brahmans, who may not kill animals, bring rice and cocoanuts, and other castes bring lambs, goats, sheep, fowls, and buffaloes, which are all killed by the washermen, by cutting their throats, except the buffaloes, which are always killed by the Madigas, the lowest class of Outcastes.

The heads are all cut off and presented to the goddess.

This lasts till about three p.m., when the people go off to the house of the village carpenter, who has got ready a small
wooden cart.

On their arrival some cooked rice is offered to the cart, and a lamb sacrificed before it, and a new cloth and eight annas are given to the carpenter as his fee.

The cart is then dragged by the washermen, to the sound of horns and tom-toms, to the place of sacrifice.

The heads and carcasses of the animals already sacrificed are first removed by the Malas and Madigas, except the head of the buffalo first offered, which remains in its place till all the ceremonies are finished, when the shrine is
removed.

At about seven p.m. another series of ceremonies begins.

First a lamb is sacrificed before the goddess, and its blood mixed with some cooked rice, and at the same time a pig is buried up to the neck in a pit at the entrance of the village, with its head projecting above the earth.

The villagers go in procession to the spot, while one of the Madigas carries the rice, soaked in the blood of the lamb, in a basket.

All the cattle of the village are then brought to the place and driven over the head of the unhappy pig, 1 which is, of course, trampled to death ; and, as they pass over the pig, the blood and rice are sprinkled upon them to preserve them
from disease.

Then, after this, follows the final ceremony.

The image of the goddess is taken from the canopy by the washerman, and a Madiga takes the head of the buffalo with its foreleg in the mouth, the forehead and nostrils all smeared over with fat, and the earthen lamp still lighted on the top.

They then all go in procession to the boundary of the village, first the men carrying the buffalo s head, next the washerman  with the image, and last the small wooden cart.

When the procession arrives at the extreme limit of the village lands, they go on, for about a furlong, into the lands of the neigh bouring village.

There the Asadis first chant the praises of the goddess, then some turmeric is distributed to all the people, and finally the image is divested of all its ornaments and solemnly placed upon the ground and left there.

The light on the head of the buffalo is extinguished, and the head itself carried off by the Madiga, who takes it for a feast to his own house.

The object of transporting the goddess to the lands of the next village is to transfer to that village the wrath of the deity, a precaution which does not show much faith in the temper of the goddess, nor much charity towards their neighbours !

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SHRINE OF POLERAMMA

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SHRINE AND IMAGES OF BISAL MARI

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18/01/2015

Kerala Folklore Museum photo of David Van Der Elst

 

ETHNOFLORENCE

 N.873

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KERALA FOLKLORE MUSEUM

 http://www.folkloremuseum.in/

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PHOTO COURTESY

OF

DAVID VAN DER ELST

of

Tribal Sculpture from Western Nepal

http://tribalsculpturesfromnepal.skynetblogs.be/

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Ethnoflorence

is progressing to tag each of the over 800 posts published since 2008, with the hope that at the end of this work it will be  easier to identify the materials of interest

(the TAG are in left column below, under 'CATEGORIES').

There is in any case a space

google (left column) search

 linked with the keywords used in the site.

The TAG of the KERALA FOLKLORE MUSEUM

COLLECTION is

http://ethnoflorence.skynetblogs.be/collection-kerala-fol...

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The TAG for the DAVID VAN DER ELST COLLECTION inside Ethnoflorence site is

http://ethnoflorence.skynetblogs.be/collection-david-van-...

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TAG KERALA FOLKLORE MUSEUM

http://ethnoflorence.skynetblogs.be/collection-kerala-fol...

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Photo courtesy of

DAVID VAN DER ELST

Bruxelles

All rights reserved

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David Van Der Elst

has recently visited some of the shrines linked with the Village Gods of South of India, his impressions, testimonies and some of his photographs will soon be published on this site

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PHOTO DAVID VAN DER ELST

ALL RIGHT RESERVED

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The TAG for the Village Gods of South India is

 

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Photo Harry Holtzman all rights reserved

 

 

http://ethnoflorence.skynetblogs.be/village-gods-of-south...

and

 

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Photo Ron du Bois all rights reserved

 

http://ethnoflorence.skynetblogs.be/archive/2012/10/11/ro...

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RAJASTHANI BHIL

TRIBAL DANCE- GAVARI

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 READ MORE HERE

http://ethnoflorence.skynetblogs.be/archive/2015/01/17/ra...

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 BHIL MASKS TAGS IN ETHNOFLORENCE

http://ethnoflorence.skynetblogs.be/bhil-tribe-mask/

&

http://ethnoflorence.skynetblogs.be/mask-bhil-gavari-dance/

15/08/2013

Pudukkottai terracotta horse and elephant shrine

ETHNOFLORENCE

INDIAN AND HIMALAYAN

FOLK AND TRIBAL ARTS

2008 - 2016

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VILLAGE GODS OF SOUTH INDIA

road for

PUDUKKOTTAI

old shrine

with

terracotta horses and elephant

 

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03:33 Publié dans AIYANAR VILLAGE GODS OF SOUTH INDIA | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0) | |  Facebook | | | | Pin it! | | |  del.icio.us | Digg! Digg

Village gods of South India Septa Matrikas Pudukottai

ETHNOFLORENCE

INDIAN AND HIMALAYAN

FOLK AND TRIBAL ARTS

collection Durand Dessert.jpg

Collection Durand Dessert photo Yannick

2008 - 2016

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http://ethnoflorence.skynetblogs.be/village-gods-of-south...

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Village Gods of South India

Terracotta art

Shrine

on the street of

Pudukottai

Septa Matrikas

 

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http://ethnoflorence.skynetblogs.be/village-gods-of-south...

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28/01/2013

MUSEUM OF MAN RASHTRIYA MANAV SANGRAHALAYA BHOPAL

BHOPAL

 

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MUSEUM OF MAN

RASHTRIYA MANAV SANGRAHALAYA

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PHOTO COURTESY 

of

MADHUR DIWAN, NAGARJUN 

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ETHNOFLORENCE 2013

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INDIAN AND HIMALAYAN SHRINES

A Weekly Report

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THARUS BARDIA

WORSHIP AT HOUSE SHRINE

1978

PHOTO 

JOHAN REINHARD

http://sites.google.com/site/johanreinhardwebsite/

Tharus - Bardia #14 Worship at house shrine 1978.jpg

About the Tharus Bardia

visit the sincretic page of

 LAWANGI PUJA WITH SHAMAN

http://ethnoflorence.skynetblogs.be/archive/2011/06/28/nepal-tharus-bardia-lawangi-puja-tharu-culture-nepal.html

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THE KHENIS or GHOST EATERS

 

are protective figure that can be found at the entrance gates of some villages of the  

LOWER MUSTANG

Baragun Area

after KAGBENI and JHARKOT

(DZAR),  

 

IWI (grand mother) and MEME (grand father) 

Each KHENIS figure is re-painted each year for the LUKOR festival (circumbulation of the village area).

SEE MORE ON

 

http://ethnoflorence.skynetblogs.be/archive/2011/05/01/khenis-ghost-eaters-in-tangbe-village-lower-mustang-nepal.html

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MEME

figure at the entrance gate of Tangbe

2010

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VILLAGE GODS OF SOUTH INDIA

AYANAR SHRINE OF NARTHAMALAI

TAMIL NADU

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SEPTAMATRIKAS

 

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VISIT THE IMPORTANT CONTRIBUTE TO THE MATTER BY

RON DU BOIS

 LARGER THAN LIFE

THE TERRACOTTA SCULPTURES OF SOUTH INDIA

ON

http://ethnoflorence.skynetblogs.be/archive/2012/10/11/ron-du-bois-terracotta-sculptures-of-india-tamil-nadu.html

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HIDDEN MUSEUMS OF INDIA AND HIMALAYA

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GOVERNAMENT MUSEUM

ALAMPUR

 

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Behind the Kumara Brahma temple at the Nav Brahma site at Alampur is the Alampur Government Museum. This museum has a large, varied collection of sculptures arranged in a big hall. 

 

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Most of the pieces are from the 7th century Chalukya period; several pieces in polished black stone  are from the  11th century (Kakatiyas).

 

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Ethnoflorence 

2013

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12/10/2012

Larger than Life: The Terracotta Sculptures of India Ron du Bois

LARGER THAN LIFE:

THE

TERRACOTTA SCULPTURES 

OF

INDIA

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TEXT AND PICTURES

courtesy 

of

RON DU BOIS

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Massive terracotta horses

have been built

by

Tamil villagers in south India for thousands of years. 

Stephen Inglis

states

that

"technically they are

the most ambitious

achievements in clay found in India 

and by any survey probably

the

largest hollow clay images to be created anywhere"

(1).

 

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-Massive terracotta Horse. Environs of Puthur, Tamilnadu, South India. 

This fifty year old massive clay image was fired on site.

Because the fired surfaces are porous a solution of oxides used as colorants are easily absorbed and thus made durable. 

Fifty years have altered them only slightly.

Although the annual rains soak the porous clay, no harm 

results because Tamilnadu never freezes.

In other climates water penetrating the clay could freeze and expand causing disintegration within a season.-.

 

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-Created from sacred temple ground, this horse now stands purified by fire. No cracking or breakage due to trapped air or moisture occurred. 

The non-ceramic decoration of calcium carbonate and water penetrates the porous clay and thus becomes durable. 

 

Rain and subsequent freezing weather could spell the the disintegration of such massive clay images within a season, but the temperature in Tamilnadu is always warm, and thus the images stand for generations.

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The methods

used

to construct and to fire images nine to fifteen feet or more in height

are

unique

in ceramic history 

and of unusual interest to clay specialists. 

They differ dramatically from the images of horses and soldiers  excavated in China, in that they are larger than life-size and fired in situ. 

Not only is the

size impressive,

but the proportions and embellishment are

superb. 

These works are created by a caste of

hereditary potter/priests

who are products and heirs

of

an ancient tradition 

in which

clay and religion

are inseparably linked.

 

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-This massive terracotta Aiyanar horse image was built around 1955. 

It is distinctive for its high relief modeling.

Much the original white wash is still extant.

The high relief elements are technically possible because copious amounts of temper (rice straw) are mixed in the clay.-

 

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-Detail of relief modelling, 18 inches high, one neck of ancient Aiyanar terracotta horse.

Environs of Puthur, near Chidambarum, Tamilnadu, India-

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Yet because

the images are built

in

remote village shrines

they have been virtually

ignored

by

scholars. 

As

Inglis

observes

"visitors to Tamil Nadu may catch a glimpse of such images from the window of a bus or train yet an interest once aroused is difficult to pursue".

 

 Katervil_in_front_of_Yallee.jpg

 Tamil people of the cities

know little of them

and for the ordinary village people, work on such images involves skills and a sacred ritual of which they have little knowledge.

The work is almost never seen in big towns or cities, sold in fairs, or otherwise displayed.

Although some attention has been given by scholars to the religious complex in which they playa part, information about massive images and the craftsmen who build them is not to be found in the literature on south India"

(2).

In May, 1980, as an Indo-American Fellow, I was able to observe at first hand, in remote and abandoned village shrines, ancient examples of these massive terracotta horses "with fiercely noble heads standing ready to carry god or demon"

(3).

 

As I looked at them, numerous questions came to mind:

How old were they?

Who made them?

What was their purpose?

Were they still being made?

How could such huge clay images be fired?

How could passages of clay varying in thickness from two to sixteen inches be dried and fired without mishap of any kind?

The answers

to these questions would

shed

new light on the methods used in the past

by

the Etruscans,

the Chinese,

and pre-Columbian peoples to create such larger-than-life terracotta images.

The craftsmen who made them clearly used methods of construction and firing outside the spectrum of Western ceramic skills and processes.

Few, if any clay specialists in the Western world would attempt to build and fire on-site ceramic sculpture of such monumental scale.

Through the unfailing support of Ray Meeker and Deborah Smith of the Golden Bridge Pottery in Pondicherry, I found some important answers.

Former students of Susan Peterson, they are the only American potters successfully producing hand-thrown stoneware in India at present.

 

Their plan of organization made the documentation possible.

Intrigued with the projected filming of the construction of an

Aiyanar horse,

they offered me the use of their recently purchased jeep to search for Aiyanar shrines and potters.

The three of us, together with Ray's assistant, Ratchagar, to serve as translator, set out on a four-wheel drive field trip.

On a single day's outing, we sighted five Aiyanar shrines in the outskirts of Chidambaram.

Each of the sites held one or more terracotta horses, each ten to twelve feet high constructed within the last one hundred years. The surface decoration, in most cases, had weathered away and the patina indicated considerable age.

There was nothing to indicate the date or the names of either the potters or donors.

Such facts were never recorded.

 

Ancient_Terra_Cotta_Horse_villager.jpg

This ancient terra cotta horse was built and fired on site some one hundred years ago.

It measures over ten feet in height. 

The high relief images on the neck of the horse image were modeled of clay with an admixture of straw. 

The images symbolize spirit attendants who ride with Aiyanar at night to guard the village boundary.

 

clay_horse_detail.jpg

-Detail of ancient horse (with villager standing in front): The high relief images on the neck of the horse were modeled with the solid clay mixture.

They symbolize

spirit

attendants

who ride with

Aiyanar 

at night to guard the village boundary.

Four_massive_Aiyanar_horses.jpg

 

About 100 years old, four massive terra cotta horses constructed and fired on site stand in a seemingly

abandoned 

Aiyanar shrine.

Were such horses still being built?

Thanks to my friends' fluency in Tamil we soon found a pottery community reputed to have horse- building skills in the village of Puthur, sixteen kilometers from Chidambaram.

When we found the earth and thatch dwelling of the potters, we discovered an Aiyanar shrine nearby complete with a huge standing terracotta horse which the potters claimed was more than one hundred years old.

Near the older form was a more recent horse built of cement, a material that has now almost completely replaced clay as the medium for shaping ritual images.

 To the west stood a large

cement image of Aiyanar

and to the south, a shrine housed a much smaller image flanked by two consorts.

The shrine is in active use. 

Each evening some forty villagers worship there, the women touching their foreheads to the ground and the men prostrating themselves completely.

The indigenous religious system, involving the belief in a male deity, at once hero, protector, companion, and councilor, is Dravidian.

It predates by centuries the Aryan introduction of Hinduism with its complex pantheon of deities in the second millennium B.C. During the Middle Ages, in order to upgrade and legitimize Aiyanar through association with mainline Hinduism, devotees evolved the story of his birth as a son of Shiva and Vishnu (in the form of a beautiful woman). 

Aiyanar helps on many important occasions in life -to choose a bride or groom, to cure sickness, or to punish a wrongdoer. 

He holds a metal sword in his hand on which devotees thrust paper messages stating their various problems. 

Often the solutions are revealed in dreams.

 

village_potter.jpg

- S. Kalia Perumal was an important member of the four man crew who constructed the horse.

 

village_potter2.jpg

-This potter's wife standing before the shrine is in a state of trance.

The closer presence

of

Aiyanar

and the forces of village deities stimulate states of possession. 

For some their bodies temporarily become containers of the divine.-

*

We learned that the last Aiyanar horse was commissioned more than twenty years ago.

But the potters assured us they still knew how to build one. Would they do it?

Would they accept a commission from a non-Hindu - a foreigner? 

I was impressed with the potters and had a genuine sympathy and liking for Aiyanar and his shrines.

Unlike Hindu temples, his shrines were always located in secluded country areas in which trees were a necessary and auspicious component. 

They were restrained-the sculptural quality of the clay or cement images was stable and impressive. 

Perhaps the potters were moved by my positive attitude and interest in Aiyanar; at any rate, they decided to accept the commission.

They agreed to build a horse nine feet high in twenty days; it was to be situated next to the existing horses. 

They quoted a price of 500 rupees.

After haggling, they reduced the figure to 400 rupees- ($48.00) - a good price by Indian standards but by Western standards extremely low when one considers that four or five men would work for twenty days to complete the commission.

*

Day One

***********

They knew their business.

On Monday, May 26, 1980, a puja (ritual) was held to ensure the success of the project.

 

To consecrate the ground on which the horse was to be built, the potters encircled the area using the blood streaming from the neck of a decapitated rooster. 

Coconut halves were placed to each side of the area. 

Liquor, an essential ritualistic ingredient, was present although Tamil Nadu is a "dry" state. 

Technically, liquor is illegal but this was "home brew," which escaped official scrutiny. 

Food offerings to Aiyanar completed the ritual.

Secure in the assurance that Aiyanar was now companion to the project, the potters began construction.

The preparation of the clay had taken place the day before. 

A circular earth pit about four feet in diameter served as a mixing trough. 

One part sedimentary earthenware is mixed with one part earthenware topsoil. 

Although fine-grained, it contains silt. 

To this enough water is added to produce a medium-viscosity slurry. 

The potters knew this clay would fail as a medium for building large sculpture. 

Large quantities of non-plastic ingredients are essential to prevent shrinkage and hence cracking, as well as to permit thick passages of clay.

The non-plastic ingredients consist of three parts rice hulls and approximately one part (by volume) of three-to-four-inch lengths of rice straw. 

The potters added this to the earthenware slurry and mixed it by foot to produce a medium soft mixture possessing all the qualities of a "castable."

aiyanar1day.jpg

 

-First Day construction

Aiyanar Shrine, Puthur, Tamilnadu, South India, 1980.

 Holes 12" deep and 12" wide were excavated in the ground possible to relieve air pressure during firing. 

  Katervil applies a heavy  coil of clay with an admixture of rice straw to form the "hooves", the first stage in the construction of  a massive terracotta horse.

These constitute the first procedures in the construction of a massive Aiyanar horse image.

When completed it will stand ten feet high.

In the background stands an ancient terracotta horse said to be 100 years old.-

*

Large coils of this material were used to form rings around previously inscribed twelve-inch circles on the ground marking the four "hoofs" of the horse. 

 A second coil of clay joined to the initial ring extended the diameter to sixteen inches. 

 Four of these clay rings were formed to establish the four "hoofs" of the horse's legs.

This accomplished, a potter, using a metal excavating tool, dug holes approximately twelve inches deep inside each ring of clay.

A potter set a wooden pole about six feet high inside one hole and held it while a colleague quickly filled the entire hole with clay thus supporting the pole in a vertical position. 

In a similar fashion, vertical poles were set in the three remaining holes. 

Each wooden pole, therefore, was supported by a solid mass of clay mixture about sixteen inches across and twelve inches 

deep. 

Without the use of rice hulls and straw such passages would shrink and crack.

These ingredients are the major part of the mixture by volume and are essential to this type of monumental clay construction.

The last part to be constructed was a clay base for the central rectangular support, 24'' x 24''.

 This completed the first day's work. Nothing further could be done until the moist clay mixture stiffened.

 The potters spent their time in the afternoon preparing ropes made of rice straw.

Wrapped around the wooden uprights these ropes create a compressible internal support system for the application of about a four-inch wall of clay thereby eliminating any possibility of the clay cracking as it dries and contracts.

aiyanar14.jpg

 -Woman Creating a Colam.

Colams

are ritual diagrams

or drawings that welcome the dawn, or gods to their festivals. 

        They illustrate the power of geometricity to create a force field or maze by which untoward forces are confused and  thus kept at bay. 

Mostly women create the geometric designs with rice flour. 

Colams celebrate the impermanence of art and art as an essential aspect of daily devotion. 

Their beauty of form and endless variety are at once decoration and ritual.-

*

Day Two:

********* 

On the morning of the second day of construction the potters completed the task of winding the straw ropes around the four wooden uprights. 

They then applied a four-inch wall of clay so that four large tubes about 40 inches tall were formed, each serving as a  metaphorical leg.

Next, four vertical uprights were fixed at the inside comer of the base of the central rectangular support previously completed. Straw ropes were wound around them to create an armature for a thick application of clay. 

The potters worked surely and quickly in spite of a 112 degree Fahrenheit temperature. 

Descendants of generations of clay craftsmen, they have learned the skills from childhood and are concerned only with the work at hand, In the afternoon they completed the front and rear legs and the central rectangular support. 

The front legs now stood as a single unit 44 inches high, 38 inches wide, and 17 inches across, measured at the top center. 

By fixing wooden supports to the wooden uprights, the potters created a horizontal passage of clay that bridged the two front and rear legs.

The clay mixture was laid over and under these supports to create a level horizontal surface.

This completed, nothing more could be done until the horizontal passages of clay tiffened.

 

aiyanar6.jpg

-The legs of the horse are constructed of four wooden poles, rice straw, and rope. 

Clay slurry is applied over all. The potters bridged the front and rear legs.-

 

Aiyanar_2nd_Day.jpg

 

-The two front legs are now stiffened, Katervil uses a wooden support covered with rice straw to form a compressible internal support. 

As the thick clay passages dry and shrink the internal straw support compresses to prevent cracking.-

*

Day Three

***********

On the morning of the third day, additional wood supports were placed horizontally to connect the front legs to the central support and then to the rear legs' unit. 

The potters molded the horse's under-belly by laying "gobs" of the clay directly on the wood supports (both above and underneath); this process produced a slab four inches thick, seven feet, ten inches long, and thirty-four inches wide! 

Such a feat was possible only because of the wooden internal support system.

aiyanar4day_Three_units.jpg

 

-Third Day of Construction. 

To bridge the pillars forming the legs and the cental support unit clay was applied over horizontal lenghts of wood wrapped with rice straw held in place with rope.

 

To prevent cracking rice straw is essential as an internal support because it compresses as the clay dries and shrinks. 

Four wooden poles wound with rope and rice straw formed an internal support on which clay was applied to form the central support unit.

The height of all three units is three feet, eight inches.-

*

After the burning rays of the sun had stiffened the slab, the potters next added coils of clay to form the curve of  the belly, a process which added seven inches to the height.

They tapered the edge of the final coil. 

When the clay was stiff, the diagonal slant provided a broader surface and hence a good join for the next application of  clay.

*

Day Four

**********

In the afternoon the potters, using thick gobs of the basic clay mixture, modeled the figure of the guardian (or groom) of Aiyanar's horse directly on the surface of the central support form.

 

aiyanar4day-b.jpg

 

aiyanar4day-c.jpg

 

aiyanar4day.jpg

   The modeling of the image of Aiyanar's groom starts with a massive gobs of the clay and will be finished with a levigated slip mixed with sand.

This older, mustached image symbolizes the neither aspects of the deity's nature. 

Katervil's deft fingers bring the image to life and vitality. 

Potter-priest and master clay craftsman of both utilitarian and sculptural forms, he models the groom of Aiyanar with thick gobs of clay on the central support of a massive Aiyanar horse image. 

He, poses beside the completed form which took two hours to complete.

 

aiyanar20.jpg

 

-An older, moustached image on the opposite side of the central support column symbolizes the neither aspects of Aiyanar's 

nature...dark and problematic. 

The smooth, ever youthful groom seen here symbolizes his divine nature.-

*

Day Six:

*********

lengths of bamboo are placed inside the figure to complement exterior supports.

 

aiyanar3day.jpg

Katervil laid wooden sticks horizontally to connect the front legs, central support column and rear legs.

 

He applied the clay mixture around these supports to form a horizontal slab, thirty-four inches wide by seven feet ten inches long.

 

aiyanar5day-b.jpg

 

Horizontal lenghts of bamboo (one visible on the top interior wall) are used to support the walls and to reduce accidental damage by children or cows.

Because the shrine is sacrosanct there is no intentional vandalism.

Some of the passages were four inches thick, attesting to the non-plastic nature of the basic clay mixture. 

An application of pure clay over the coarse basic clay followed, and detailing was done with fingers and a wooden modeling tool.

The modeling skills are of a high order and result in a figure with remarkable spring and incipient energy.

 

aiyanar5.jpg

 

 

aiyanar5day.jpg

 

aiyanar8bday.jpg

      Katervil  and two assistants are shown in process of hand modeling in high relief the bells associated with Hindu and home village deities.

In the modeling of the jewels, bells, and other decorative details, the intersection of the potter's skills and the common elements of Indian design are seen.

The decorative clay bands are identical to those applied to mounts on great temples by stone carvers, and to processional mounts and decorative architecture by wood workers...the skills of the garland and harness maker all flow behind the potter's skill.

aiyanar11.jpg

- Ron du Bois and 16mm film camera.

Aiyanar shrine, Puthur, Tamilnadu, South India 1980.

An attendant holds an umbrella over the camera to protect it from the blistering sun. 

At 114 degrees F., the camera could become burning hot and the canister of film inside ruined. 

A homemade evaporative cooler was devised to store and save the 16mm film canisters from damage. 

They were kept dry by placing them a lidded plastic container. This in turn was placed within a large terracotta vessel. 

Sand poured around the plastic storage container was then watered to cool the film by evaporation.

aiyanar10.jpg

 

-7th Day of Construction. Ron du Bois, Indo American Fellow, with massive terracotta horse in process of construction.

The final height of the massive sculpture was a nine feet, ten inches. An ancient terracotta horse built over 100 years ago is seen in the background.

Photo by Ray Meeker, 1980.-

 *

The basic clay mixture is similar to what, in the West, is considered to be a "castable" -a clay body suitable for bricks, refractory linings, or kiln construction but rarely considered as suitable for ceramic sculpture. 

Again, to the Western craftsman, a kiln for firing ceramic sculpture would appear essential.

As a result he limits himself to forms that can be lifted and moved into a kiln.

The idea of firing "in situ" at the site of construction rather than in a tudio/workshop has never been the practice.

Permanent kilns, plumbing and wiring for gas, oil, or electricity have all been part of the Western paradigm - yet the Etruscans, pre-Columbians, Africans, and the potter-priests of India as well all constructed temporary clay walls for on-site firing of monumental ceramic forms.

 

aiyanar8_closing_back_day.jpg

 

-Only a portion of the back form is closed. 

To form the tail a wire serves to support solid masses of the soft clay mixture.-

*

aiyanar8_closing_back_day2.jpg

 

 

aiyanar8day.jpg

 

A red slip or sigillatta is applied to seal and to smooth the course surface.

The lenght of the horse is thirteen hands, the height of both torso and legs is each four hands.

 The length of the still to be built neck will be four and one-half hands. 

These proportions passed from father to son may be adjusted only slightly depending on the judgment of the team leader.

 

aiyanar9.jpg

D-The face on the breast of the horse is YALEE...it's  fierce gaze guides the god on his nightly rides.

Developed over the ages this image is shared with the Hindu art of large towns and cities, but is now part of the village modeling tradition.

Able to see in all directions, able to see into the future. 

Because of this he guides the horse safely.-

 

 *

Day Nine:

*********

The entire neck, saddle and tail are complete.

 

aiyanar9day.jpg

 

aiyanar12.jpg

 

-To prevent sagging a wooden brace was used to support the mass of soft clay used to form the head.

It is now the 10th morning and the clay has stiffened overnight.

 The potters work to complete the final details - eyes, ears, bridle, mouth, teeth and tongue.-

*

Day Twelve

*************

Moist earth chopped from an adjacent drainage ditch was carried by baskets to the construction site to form the wall for an "open Field" firing. 

At a height of 18 inches it is left to stiffen before adding more earth. A 10 inch wall thickness is maintained until the final height of five feet is attained.

aiyanar13day.jpg

 

aiyanar16.jpg

 The image peeks out, almost completely covered by earth, clay vessels, wood, dung, and straw.

As the wall grows around the image, the image of the beast inside is felt.

The horse remains an almost mythical creature in South India ...imported in small numbers for the ancient kings, and now transformed from clay into the mount of a god.

 aiyanar4.jpg

  

aiyanar14day.jpg

A slurry made from ditch mud and water is carried in baskets and poured over the straw...five men take only twenty minutes to spread the thick slip over the entire surface and to overlap the clay wall.

The fire is started through a firehole igniting the layers of straw, dung and wood that surround and support the figure.

 

*

Day Fourteen

***************

The firing is completed within three hours.

 

aiyanar18.jpgaiyanar14day-b.jpg

The potters brought the project to a conclusion with a final puja (religious ceremony) and a "bringing to life" of the successfully fired and decorated horse.

It is hoped that these notes and photographs will benefit Western craftsman and serve to enhance internationally the most impressive but little-known skills of Indian potters.

 

***********************************

Footnotes:

1-2 Stephen R. Inglis, "Night Riders: Massive Temple Figures of Rural Tamil Nadu, in V. Vijayavenugopala (ed.) 

A Festschrift for Prof. M. Shanmugam Pillai, Madurai University Press, 1980.

3 Stella Kramrisch, Unknown India: Ritual Art in Tribe and Village. Philadelphia Museum of Art.

**********************************************

Ron du Bois,

an

Emeritus Professor of Art,

taught

ceramics and studio art 

Oklahoma State University

USA

****

He was 

Fulbright professor

to Korea

in 1973-74,

where he taught ceramics at three Korean universities. 

His award winning documentary, The Working Processes of the Korean Folk Potter, was filmed at that time. 

In 1979-80, du Bois traveled extensively in India as a 1979-80 Indo-American fellow to research and document the work of Indian potters.

Among other projects he filmed the entire construction of perhaps the last massive terracotta horse to be built in India.

The documentary,

"The Working Processes of the Potters of India: Massive terracotta Horse Construction"

was completed under the auspices of the National Endowment for the Humanities and deals with the subject matter of this article.

In 1987, du Bois was awarded a 10 month Fulbright Senior Research Scholar grant, African Regional Research program,to research and document 

Nigerian potters.

For information on his

POTTERS OF THE WORLD FILM/VIDEO SERIES 

Contact:

Ron du Bois, Professor Emeritus, http://www.angelfire.com/ok2/dubois, 612 S. Kings St., Stillwater, OK 74074, 

(405) 377-2524, email: duboisr@sbcglobal.net, fax: 1-405-372-5023

**********

Also by Ron du Bois

A Saga of Synchronicity 

Making a Film Documentary

on

African Ceramics

 

48.jpg

http://www.ceramicstoday.com/articles/synchronicity_image...

 

TEXT AND PICTURES

Courtesy

of

RON DU BOIS

ALL

RIGHTS RESERVED

*************************

 

 

20/07/2012

The village gods of South India Whitehead, Henry Calcutta 1921

The village gods of South India 

Whitehead, Henry

Calcutta :

Association Press ; London ; Toronto : H. Milford

(1921)

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CLAY HORSES OF AIYANAR

 

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GRAMA DEVATA SHRINE

 

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INTERIOR OF A SHRINE WITH SRONES PROBABLY SIMBOL OF THE SEVEN SISTERS

 

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KARAGAM

 

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RUDE SHRINE AT ROOT

OF TREE

WITH BARE AS SYMBOL

 

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RUDE SHRINE

 

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MINACHI AND THE SEVEN SISTER, CUDDALORE

 

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SHRINE OF POLERAMMA

 

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SHRINE AND IMAGES OF BISAL MARI

 

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http://archive.org/details/thevillagegodsof00whituoft

http://archive.org

§§§
§
§ 

 

12/06/2012

HIMALAYA RIFLESSI DAL PROFONDO - THE GRAMA DEVATAS OF SOUTH INDIA - HIMALAYAN MASKS IN GENOVA COMING SOON

3.JPG

The figure of the man in tribal and village art,it's normally used to connote itself, to represent the human being as he is 

seen in the every day life, in the dreams and trances experiences...by the artist, that represents preeminently his spirit, 

the Ancestor

2.JPG

HIMALAYA

RIFLESSI DAL PROFONDO

GENOVA

PALAZZO IMPERIALE

COLLEZIONE MORDACCI

1.JPG

SEE MORE HERE

http://ethnoflorence.skynetblogs.be/album/himalaya-rifles...

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MORDACCI COLLECTION

ETHNOFLORENCE 

2012

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

********

***

*

 

aiyanar4day-c[2].jpg

(Photo Ron du Bois)

 

Outside the human temporality of man-shaped things,no man-made sign, a simple rough stone marks the presence of the deity,

 

daubed with red colour which holds the memory of blood sacrifices, placed under the branches of sacred tree is part of the Indian 

 

landscape,in this way also the presence of Aiyanar, the Lord, was marked in principle, by a rough of stone, the works of art, small or

 

gigantic, made of clay, larger than life, arrived after, proclaiming his exhistence.

 

img532.jpg

(Photo H.H.)

THE VILLAGE GODS OF SOUTH INDIA

COMING SOON

ETHNOFLORENCE 

2012

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

********

***

*

 

11.JPG

HIMALAYAN MASKS

AT 

PALAZZO IMPERIALE 

GENOVA

 

12.JPG

 

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14.JPG

COMING SOON

ETHNOFLORENCE 

2012

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

****

***

*

TRIBAL ARTS

A

CROSS CULTURAL HERITAGE

COMING SOON

*****

**

*


a


Himalaya riflessi dal profondo - The Village Gods of South India - Tribal Arts a Cross Cultural Heritage

ETHNOFLORENCE

INDIAN AND HIMALAYAN

FOLK AND TRIBAL ARTS

2008 - 2016

*************************************************

The figure of the man in tribal and village art,

it's normally used to connote itself,

to represent the human being as he is 

seen in the every day life, in the dreams and trances experiences...

by the artist, that represents preeminently his spirit, 

the Ancestor

(Text by Ethnoflorence all rights reserved)

 

DSCN3187 - Copia.JPG

HIMALAYA RIFLESSI

dal

Profondo

Genova

Palazzo Imperiale

Collezione Mordacci

see more on

http://ethnoflorence.skynetblogs.be/album/himalaya-rifles...

 

DSCN3186.JPG

 

DSCN3187.JPG

 

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MORDACCI COLLECTION

ETHNOFLORENCE 2012

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

*************

******

*

 

Katervil_in_front_of_Yallee[1].jpg

(Photo Ron du Bois)

Outside the human temporality of man-shaped things,no man-made sign, a simple rough stone marks the presence of the deity,

daubed with red colour which holds the memory of blood sacrifices, placed under the branches of sacred tree is part of the Indian 

landscape,in this way also the presence of Aiyanar, the Lord, was marked in principle, by a rough of stone, the works of art, small or

gigantic, made of clay, larger than life, arrived after, proclaiming his exhistence.

 

img536.jpg

 

(Photo H.H.)

THE VILLAGE GODS OF SOUTH INDIA

COMING SOON

ETHNOFLORENCE 2012

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

********

****

*

TRIBAL ARTS

A

CROSS CULTURAL HERITAGE

COMING SOON

******

***

*

 

28/12/2011

INDIA LEGENDS FLOKLORE ART AND CULTURE: GRAMA DEVATA: WORSHIP WITH ANIMAL SACRIFICE in THE VILLAGE GODS OF SOUTH INDIA 1921

 

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THE RELIGIOUS LIFE OF INDIA

THE VILLAGE GODS OF SOUTH INDIA

by

HENRY WHITEHEAD

1921

****

Antedating the Aryan invasion, and predating their introduction of Hinduism with its complex pantheon of deities
in the second millemium B.C.,  the typical and unique workship of the VILLAGE GODS is probably the most ancient
form of Indian indigenous religious beliefs and costume system, praticated by the old and originary inhabitants
of the place, the Dravidians.

These sistem of beliefs is based on a conception in which the world is peopled by a great moltitude of good and
bad spirits that are the cause of all the diseases and disasters.

In this kind of ancient and primitive religion the object of the people was to propitiate these innumerable legions
of spirits, each village was under the protection of one guardian deity, at once hero,protector, councilor.

The village deities were ALMOST UNIVERSALLY WORSHIPPED WITH ANIMAL SACRIFICIES, Buffaloes, sheep,
goats, pigs, and fowls are freely offered to them, sometimes in thousands.

The buffalo-sacrifice has special features of its own, and seems to retain TRACES OF A PRIMITIVE FORM OF WORSHIP , which may
possibly have originated in TOTEMISM.

EVERY VILLAGE  in South India is believed by the people TO BE SURROUNDED BY EVIL SPIRITS, who are always on the watch to
inflict diseases and misfortunes of all kinds on the unhappy villagers.

So the poor people turn for PROTECTION TO THE GUARDIAN DEITIES OF THEIR VILLAGE, whose function it is TO WARD OFF THESE
EVIL SPIRITS AND PROTECT THE VILLAGE FROM EPIDEMICS OF CHOLERA, SMALL POX, OR FEVER , from cattle disease, failure of
crops, childlessness, fires, and all the manifold ills that flesh is heir to in an Indian village.

THE SOLE OBJECT , then, OF THE WORSHIP OF THESE VILLAGE DEITIES IS TO PROPITIATE THEM AND TO AVERT THEIR WRATH.

In the Telugu country the potters and the washermen, who are Sudras of low caste, often officiate as priests, and
have an important part, especially in the buffalo sacrifices, that is taken by the Malas and Madigas. 

A Madiga nearly always kills the buffalo and performs the unpleasant ceremonies connected with the sprinkling of the
blood, and there are certain families among the Malas, called Asadis, who are the nearest approach to a priestly caste
in connexion with the village deities.

They have the hereditary right to assist at the sacrifices, to chant the praises of the goddess while the sacrifices are
being offered, and to perform certain ceremonies.

But in the more primitive villages, where, it may be presumed, primitive customs prevail, it is remarkable how great
a variety of people take an official part in the worship : the potter, the carpenter, the toddy-drawer, the
washerman, Malas and Madigas, and even the Brahman Karnam or village accountant, have all their parts to play. 

We  will take a village in the Telugu country, the village deity, in this particular village, is called Peddamma,

THE GREAT MOTHER

 

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he epidemic is a sign that SHE IS ANGRY AND REQUIRES TO BE PROPITIATED.

So a collection is made for the expenses of a festival, or a rich man offers to pay all expenses, and a propitious day is
selected, which in this village may be any day except Sunday or Thursday.

Then the potter of the village is instructed to make a CLAY IMAGE OF THE GREAT MOTHER, and the carpenter to make a small
wooden CART, and a BUFFALO is chosen as the chief victim for the SACRIFICE.

When the appointed day arrives, the buffalo is sprinkled all over with yellow turmeric while garlands of margosa leaves are
hung round its neck and tied to its horns.

At about two p.m. it is conducted round the village in procession to the sound of music and the beating of tom-toms.

The two sections of the Outcastes, the Malas and the Madigas, take the leading Part in the sacrifice, and conduct the buffalo
from house to house.

One Madiga goes on ahead, with a tom tom, to announce that "the buffalo devoted to the goddess is coming."

The people then come out from their houses, bow down to worship the buffalo, and pour water over his feet, and also give
some food to the Malas and Madigas, who form the procession.

By about eight p.m. this ceremony is finished, and the buffalo is brought to an open spot in the village and tied up near a
small canopy of cloths supported on bamboo poles,which has been set up for the reception of the goddess.

All the villagers then assemble at the same place, and at about ten p.m. they go in procession, with music and tom toms and
torches, to the house of the potter, where the clay image is ready prepared.

On arriving at his house, they pour about two and a half measures of rice on the ground and put the image on the top of it,
adorned with a new cloth and jewels.

All who are present then worship the image, and a ram is killed, its head being cut off with a large chopper, and the blood
sprinkled on the top of the image, as a kind of consecration.

The potter then takes up the idol and carries it out of the house for a little distance, and gives it to a washerman, who
carries it to the place where the canopy has been set up to receive it.

During the procession the people flourish sticks and swords and spears to keep off the evil spirits, and, for the same
purpose, cut limes in half and throw them up in the air.

The idea is that the greedy demons will clutch at the golden limes and carry them off, and so be diverted from any attack
on the man who carries the image.

When the idol has been duly deposited under the canopy, another procession is made to the house of the toddy-drawer.
 
He is the man who climbs the palm trees and draws off the juice which is made into toddy.

At his house some rice is cooked, and a pot of toddy and a bottle of arrack are produced and duly smeared with yellow
turmeric and a red paste, constantly used in religious
 

worship among the Hindus and called kimkuma^

The cooked rice is put in front of the pot of toddy and bottle of arrack, a ram is killed in sacrifice, and then the
toddy-drawer worships the pot and the bottle.

The village officials pay him his fee, three-eighths of a measure of rice, three-eighths of a measure of cholam 2 and four
annas, and then he carries the pot and bottle in proces sion, and places them under the canopy near the image of
Peddamma.

Then comes yet another procession.

The people go off to the house of the chief official, the Reddy, and bring from it some cooked rice in a large
earthenware pot, some sweet cakes, and a lamb.

A large quantity of margosa leaves are spread on the ground in front of the image, the rice from the Reddy s house is
placed upon them in a heap, and a large heap of rice, from one hundred to three hundred measures, according to the amount
of the subscriptions, is poured in a heap a little farther away.

All these elaborate proceedings form only the preparations for the great sacrifice, which is now about to begin.

The lamb is first worshipped and then sacrificed by having its throat cut and its head cut off.

A ram is next brought and stood over the first large heap of rice, and is there cut in two, through the back, with a heavy
chopper, by one of the village washermen.

The blood pours out over the rice and soaks it through.

One half of the ram is then taken up and carried to a spot a few yards off, where a body of Asadis are standing ready to
begin their part in the ceremonies.

The other half of the ram is left lying on the rice. The Asadis then begin to sing a long chant in honour of the deity.

Meanwhile, the chief sacrifice is made.

The buffalo is brought forward, and the Madigas kill it by cutting its throat (in some villages its head is cut off).

Some water is first poured over the blood, and then the pool of blood and water is covered up carefully with earth, lest
any outsider from another village should come and steal it.



The idea is that if any man from another village should take away and carry home even a small part of the blood, that
village would get the benefit of the sacrifice.

The head of the buffalo is then cut off and placed before the image, with a layer of fat from its entrails smeared over
the fore head and face, so as to cover entirely the eyes and nose.

The right foreleg is cut off and placed crosswise in the mouth, some boiled rice is placed upon the fat on the
forehead, and on it an earthenware lamp, which is kept alight during the whole of the festival.

Why the right foreleg should be cut off and placed in the mouth, and what the meaning of it is, I have never been able to
discover nor can I conjecture. When I have asked the villagers, they only reply, "It is the custom."

But I have found the custom prevailing in all parts of South India, among Tamils, Telugus, and Canarese alike, and I
have been informed that exactly the same custom prevails in the Southern Maratha country.

It seems to be a very ancient part of the ritual of sacrifice prevailing in South India.

Some of the rice from the heap, over which the ram was sacrificed and its blood poured out, is taken and put
in a flat basket, and some of the entrails of the buffalo are mixed with it.

The intestines of the lamb, which was first killed, are put over the neck of a Mala, and its liver is placed in his
mouth,  while another Mala takes the basket of rice soaked in blood and mixed with the entrails of the buffalo.

A procession is then formed with these two weird figures in the middle.

The man with the liver in his mouth is worked up into a state of frantic excitement and is supposed to be inspired by
the goddess.

He has to be held by men on either side of him, or kept fast with ropes, to prevent his rushing away ; and all round him
are the ryots, the small farmers, and the Malas, flourishing clubs and swords,and throwing limes into the air, to drive
away the evil spirits.

As the procession moves through the village, the people shout out " Food ! Food ! " and the man who carries the basket
sprinkles the rice soaked in blood over the houses to protect them from evil spirits.

As he walks along, he shouts out, at intervals, that he sees the evil spirits, and falls down in a faint.

Then lambs have to be sacrificed on the spot and limes thrown into the air and cocoanuts broken, to drive away the demons
and bring the man to his senses.

And so the procession moves through the village, amid frantic excitement, till, as the day dawns, they return to the canopy,
where the great mother is peacefully reposing.

At about ten a.m. a fresh round of ceremonies begins.

Some meat is cut from the carcass of the buffalo and cooked with some cholam, and then given to five little Mala boys,
siddhalu, the innocents, as they are called.

They are all covered over with a large cloth, and eat the food entirely concealed from view, probably to prevent the evil
spirits from seeing them, or the evil eye from striking them.

And then some more food is served to the Asadis, who have been for many hours, during the ceremonies of the night,
chanting the praises of the goddess.

After this the villagers bring their offerings.

The Brahmans, who may not kill animals, bring rice and cocoanuts, and other castes bring lambs, goats, sheep, fowls, and
buffaloes, which are all killed by the washermen, by cutting their throats, except the buffaloes, which are always killed
by the Madigas, the lowest class of Outcastes.

The heads are all cut off and presented to the goddess.

This lasts till about three p.m., when the people go off to the house of the village carpenter, who has got ready a small
wooden cart.

On their arrival some cooked rice is offered to the cart, and a lamb sacrificed before it, and a new cloth and eight
annas are given to the carpenter as his fee.

The cart is then dragged by the washermen, to the sound of horns and tom-toms, to the place of sacrifice.

The heads and carcasses of the animals already sacrificed are first removed by the Malas and Madigas, except the head of
the buffalo first offered, which remains in its place till all the ceremonies are finished, when the shrine is
removed.

At about seven p.m. another series of ceremonies begins.

First a lamb is sacrificed before the goddess, and its blood mixed with some cooked rice, and at the same time a pig is
buried up to the neck in a pit at the entrance of the village, with its head projecting above the earth.

The villagers go in procession to the spot, while one of the Madigas carries the rice, soaked in the blood of the lamb, in
a basket.

All the cattle of the village are then brought to the place and driven over the head of the unhappy pig, 1 which is, of
course, trampled to death ; and, as they pass over the pig, the blood and rice are sprinkled upon them to preserve them
from disease.

Then, after this, follows the final ceremony.

The image of the goddess is taken from the canopy by the washerman, and a Madiga takes the head of the buffalo with its
foreleg in the mouth, the forehead and nostrils all smeared over with fat, and the earthen lamp still lighted on the top.

They then all go in procession to the boundary of the village, first the men carrying the buffalo s head, next the washerman
with the image, and last the small wooden cart.

When the procession arrives at the extreme limit of the village lands, they go on, for about a furlong, into the lands of
the neigh bouring village.

There the Asadis first chant the praises of the goddess, then some turmeric is distributed to all the people, and finally
the image is divested of all its ornaments and solemnly placed upon the ground and left there.

The light on the head of the buffalo is extinguished, and the head itself carried off by the Madiga, who takes it for a
feast to his own house.

The object of transporting the goddess to the lands of the next village is to transfer to that village the wrath of the
deity, a precaution which does not show much faith in the temper of the goddess, nor much charity towards their neighbours !

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