Manikkavacakar (Colombo National Museum)

The bronze representing Manikkavacakar or Manikka Vachaka Swami (Tamil: மாணிக்கவாசகர்; Sinhala: මාාණික්කවාසගර්), 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. 1 in Polonnaruwa Ancient City (Coomaraswamy, 1914).

Saiva devotees in South India played a singular role in the development of Saivism between the period 6-10th centuries A.D. and Manikkavacakar was one of them. He was a 9th-century Tamil saint and poet who wrote Tiruvasakam, a book of Shaiva hymns. He was also the prime minister of the Pandiyan King [Varagunavarman II (c. 862-885 A.D.)] of Madurai (Arunachalam, 2004).

The elegantly modeled solid cast copper bronze with a lotus pedestal is 54.2 cm in height (Arunachalam, 2004; Coomaraswamy, 1914). The upper body of it is naked but ornamented with necklaces and Upavita (sacred thread). The hair is matted and the upper parts of the legs are covered tightly by a short cloth. The right hand is kept in the Vitarka Mudra while the left hand holds a palm-leaf manuscript inscribed with the formula Namasivaya, "Hails to Siva" (Arunachalam, 2004; Coomaraswamy, 1914).

Scholars have dated this statue to the 10-13th century A.D. (Coomaraswamy, 1914).

1) Arunachalam, P., 2004. Polonnaruwa bronzes and Siva worship and symbolism. Asian Educational Services. pp.34.
2) 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 4 October 2022

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