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Mahabalipuram. Elephant west of Draupadi Rath

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CollectionsArthur Llewellyn Basham
Title: Mahabalipuram. Elephant west of Draupadi Rath
Author(s): Photographer: Basham, Arthur Llewellyn
Keywords: Pallava-- Mahabalipuram (Mamallapuram) - Pallava
architecture
stone sculpture
slide set
Series/Report no.: Basham Collection
Description: One of the life-size guardian figures at Mahabalipuram is this magnificent elephant to the west of the Draupadi (Durga) Rath which, like the little shrines occupying the rest of the site, was carved from a single granite outcropping. Visitors to Mahabalipuram find a veritable petrified city of temples peopled only by rock-hewn creatures such as this one solemnly standing guard and being venerated in their own right as the Four great Animals of Brahman worship. The elephant is one of the Four Great animals: elsewhere in the complex are two others - the lion and the bull. The fourth, a horse, is not represented here. Elephants have long been objects of worship in India, for they represent masculine virility, the dignity of royalty and perhaps the most universal of all, the overcomers of obstacles in life's way. For this reason, the god ganesha has the head of an elephant although his particular vehicle is that of a rat - which also overcomes obstacles, but by more devious paths than the mighty elephant.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1885/176769
Other Identifiers: ANUA 682-1773

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