Sundaramurti Swami (Colombo National Museum)

Sundaramurti Swami Colombo Museum
The bronze representing Sundaramurti Swami (or Chuntaramurtti Swami) is presently on display in the Gallery of Polonnaruwa Period in Colombo National Museum, Sri Lanka. It was discovered from the premises of Siva Devale No. 5 in Polonnaruwa Ancient City (Coomaraswamy, 1914).

Towards the end of the last millennium, several devotees of Siva and Visnu such as Sundaramurti Swami, Candikeswara, and Tirugnanasambandar became popular devotional singers in South India (Chutiwongs et al., 2013). Among them, Sundaramurti Swami (c. 8th century A.D.) was a young Tamil psalmist who lived in Tiruarur near Nagapatam in the Madras presidency (Arunachalam, 2004). He, on the day of his marriage, became a dedicated Siva worshipper when Siva appeared before him in the form of an old Brahmin (Arunachalam, 2004). It is said that Sundaramurti Swamiwas was surprised by this unexpected incident. The hand poses of the statues of this saint appear to depict this unexpected gesture (Arunachalam, 2004; Chutiwongs et al., 2013).

The elegantly modeled solid cast bronze with a hollow pedestal is 62.6 cm in height (Coomaraswamy, 1914). The upper body of it is naked but ornamented with necklaces, Udarabandana, Upavita (sacred thread) and disk earrings (Chutiwongs et al., 2013). The upper parts of the legs are covered tightly by a short cloth. The statue displays the plastic qualities of the South Indian Cola style and sculptural skills of the time. Scholars have dated this statue to the 11-12th century A.D.

The statue was depicted on a 1 rupee stamp issued to celebrate the "Museum Centenary" in 1977.

1) Arunachalam, P., 2004. Polonnaruwa bronzes and Siva worship and symbolism. Asian Educational Services. pp.31-32.
2) Chutiwongs, N.; Prematilleke, L.; Silva, R., 2013. Sri Lanka Murthi: Siva (Sri Lanka Sculpture: Siva). Central Cultural Fund. Ministry of Cultural and the Arts. pp.122-123.
3) Coomaraswamy, A., 1914. Bronzes from Ceylon, chiefly in the Colombo Museum. Series A. No. 1. Memoirs of the Colombo Museum/Ed. J. Pearson. Colombo: Horace Hart, Colombo. p.16.

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This page was last updated on 31 July 2022

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