'(The Blog) With No Name', perhaps best described as a stream of notes and thoughts - 'remembered, recovered and (sometimes) invented'.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Enigmatic Statues

The 'Fleeing Soldier':
Frozen in perpetual run at a road junction in Pune Camp, this life-size soldier is in full military uniform with a massive-looking kit strapped onto his back and a rifle slung on his shoulder. His hands are free and he seems to be running fast (the pose is awkward though with his right hand and right foot leading). His face bears an odd expression that is neither heroic or furious - he appears to be glancing sideways with the slight hint of a smile. And but for this smirk, the straight interpretation would be that he is running away from battle. The pedestal of this statue is blank - no inscriptions.

The other day, I approached this statue with a camera when an auto fellow pulled up and said: "Don't take photos. You will get thrashed!"

The 'Pensive Laborer' ('Chintaavishtanaya Tozhilali' in Mallu):

Just across the Sangam bridge from Pune station is another mysterious presence. In the middle of a road junction in this rather slummy area, A male figure sits on a rock, a pickaxe or some other tool at his feet. He is dressed in a skimpy loincloth and is pondering something. Again, there are no inscriptions - there are marble plaques on the pedestal but they are blank.

This statue - and the surrounding slum settlement - does have a name - 'Kamgar Putla'- the 'worker statue'. While every other proletarian statue I have seen shows toiling and/or aggressive workers, this particular guy has (had to?) put his tools aside and looks glum as a fish.

As far as I could see, no online source has anything about the 'Kamgar'- the area being prone to floods is often mentioned though.

The 'Soprano':

On a recent visit to Maharaja's College, Cochin, Mom and I saw a strange statue in the middle of a garden in the campus. It shows a woman in an elaborate gown with mouth agape as if singing at full blast - a hand is raised in a gesture that suggests as much. The figure is badly eroded and both hands seem to lack fingers. Mom, who studied there around 1960, does not remember seeing it. A present day student told us the statue is now some sort of an emblem for the college and that "nobody knows who it represents". But the lines "Ah, my beauty past compare, these jewels bright I wear!" suggest themselves, emphatically!

An Odd Pair:

These two male figures flank the 'balikkalpura' (a sort of portico leading into the inner sanctuary) of the Tripunithura temple, Kerala. They are about 5 feet tall and made of black stone, rendered blacker by a regular rubbing with oil they have been receiving for generations. The figure to the left brandishes a big curved dagger with his right hand, in his left hand is a curiously tiny square shield. The one to the right holds a horn or a bugle in his left hand and his rather limp right hand just about holds a dagger. Curiously, nobody I spoke to - local elders included - have not much of an idea as to who they represent. No, they are NOT dwarapalas (a pair of proper dwarapalas stand behind them anyways). And I don't even know if these statues are particularly old - the temple was mostly rebuilt after a major fire around a hundred years back.


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