Varendra Museum: Viswakarma

in hive-190212 •  2 months ago 


Who is this elegantly dressed young prince? He and his two female companions stand upon a lotus, a sign that they are divine beings. The museum asks us, “Is this a sculpture of Vishwakarma, the Architect of the Universe?” Throughout history, artists have tended to break the rules to show their own creativity but have also had to defer to their customers to earn a living. As a result, the identity of many works of art is fiercely debated by art historians. You have to do a lot of detective work, a lot of research, and even then, you can never be entirely sure of your conclusions.

Who is this elegantly dressed young prince? He and his two female companions stand upon a lotus, a sign that they are divine beings. The museum asks us, “Is this a sculpture of Vishwakarma, the Architect of the Universe?” Throughout history, artists have tended to break the rules to show their own creativity but have also had to defer to their customers to earn a living. As a result, the identity of many works of art is fiercely debated by art historians. You have to do a lot of detective work, a lot of research, and even then, you can never be entirely sure of your conclusions.

This contemporary puja print has been identified as both Vishwakarma and as Brahma. But the addition of the tools of craftsmen around the back of the throne clearly indicates that the artist meant for this to be an image of Vishwakarma.

In the puja print, identified as Brahma, he shows the same objects in his hands as are held by the edition meant to be Vishwakarma. The vital difference is that Brahma has three heads in this print but no swan on which to ride.


Let’s look to see how Vishwakarma and Brahma were depicted during the same 11th and 12th centuries when the sculptor was creating our handsome young architect.

The Cholas invaded Bangladesh resulting in the Sena dynasty from South India overthrowing the Pala dynasty. This 12th century Chola sculpture depicts Brahma with three heads and holding the begging bowl and rosary in his two upper hands.

This sculpture of Vishnu on the left, Shiva in the middle, and Brahma on the right was carved in Bihar when Bihar was a province of the Pala Empire. Here again, Brahma has three heads, holds the rosary and begging bowl, and, in this sculpture, is accompanied by the swan on which he rides.

This Varendra sculpture has only one head, not three. He has only two hands and neither a rosary nor a begging bowl. At the base of his statue is a horse, not a swan, on which to ride. He is definitely not Brahma, nor does he fit the description of Vishwakarma as depicted and known to the general public in contemporary art. Our young prince in the Varendra collection is inscribing a stone tablet. Vishwakarma is best known in the ancient Hindu literature for designing the palaces for Vishnu, Krishna, and Indra, the King of Heaven.


Thanks for reading and getting here, see you in the next post. You can give me analysis by commenting underneath. Your analysis will be an inspiration for me.


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@linco


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This post has been promoted on Twitter- https://twitter.com/Linco37836870/status/1272637918054473728

Brahma is depicted as having four heads in my country! Some Chinese tourists call him Four Face Buddha!

Well explained article bro. I have found you are writing something related to historical aspects. This is quite hard and requires studying before writing. Really appreciable work and It will definitely help the community to know something about the history.

Thanks bro, actually this was one of the project that I worked on. And I love art and history.