Friday, February 17, 2012

Earliest Mother Goddess Image Found - In India???

I confess to being totally confused by the headline of this article!  But this "Mother Goddess" --regardless of her putative age (or lack thereof), she's a real beauty.  Looked at face on, I was immediately reminded of the ancient image of another "Mother Goddess" - She of Catal Hoyuk - large breasts, big bellied (possibly pregnant), seated upon a throne, her hands resting on the heads of two felines flanking either side of her throne.  She is not very large, although I have always gotten the impression that she is gigantic!  No, she is a carefully carved votive figure, apparently, for she was found inside what was a grain storage bin!

Here She is, one of the most iconic images in the world!  Discovered in 1961 by archaeologist
James Mellaart, She rests now in a museum in Ankara, Turkey.  Interestingly, the caption under this
photograph says that She is from 6th century BCE -- which would mean sometime between 700 - 600 BCE.
Oh please!  Everyone knows She's at least 7,000 years old, which means 5,000 - 4000 BCE!
Am I mistaken?  Does not this much larger Indian version of the Mother Goddess look like she has large breasts, a large belly, and two arms resting on - something.  Her legs, perhaps?  Which means she is either seated on something or squatting...  You can see from the photo on the right that this is not a three-dimensionally carved standing statue, but looks more like a wall plaque.  Fascinating, absolutely fascinating. 

Statue of mother Goddess dating back to 3rd Century B.C. discovered by Archaeological Survey of India at Sri Chalukya Kumara Bheemeswara Swamy temple at Samarlakota in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh near Kakinada

From The Hindu Online
Earliest image of Mother Goddess found
VIJAYAWADA,February 16, 2012
Ramesh Susarla

The first-ever ‘Mother Goddess' image carved in sandstone rock — representing the earliest perception of idolising woman as Goddess dating back to 3 Century BC — has been found close to the Sri Chalukya Kumara Bheemeswara Swamy temple at Samarlakota near Kakinada in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh. [Do they mean between 400 and 300 BCE, or do they mean 4000 to 3000 BCE?  Big difference!]

Archaeological Survey of India's Superintending Archaeologist R. Krishnaiah, told The Hindu that while conducting an exploration around the Bheemeswara Swamy temple to ascertain its origin and antiquity, their Deputy Superintending Archaeologist D. Kanna Babu discovered the stunning and unique image of a seated mother goddess (Yakshini), in a remote corner outside the temple.

The centuries old temple is revered as one of the ‘Pancharama Kshetras.' From the archaeological research point of view, the ‘mother goddess' sculpture was a rare discovery, said Mr. Krishnaiah. This find would be vital for reconstructing the cultural life of ancient Andhra, the origin and evolution of early cultural art. This idol was believed to be from the Ashoka period in 3 Century BC.

Samarlakota might have played a vital role with prominent cultural activity from the early times dating back to the 11 century Chalukya period, he added. “We will conduct more explorations in the near future to bring out archaeological richness of the ancient Godavari Valley,” he said.

The archaeologist Mr. Babu, who made the discovery, said that such an early image of Mother Goddess had not been found so far in entire South India in stone media. The highly eroded sandstone sculpture is 150 cm tall, 67 cm wide and 28 cm thick life-size form of a Mother Goddess seated on a broad pedestal.

“Her facial physiognomic feature is roundish, dignified with chubby cheeks, wide open eyes, a broad heavy nose, and close cut tender pair of lips. She is potbellied, her arms and wrists are embellished with a series of big bangles and she is wearing earrings. The head is covered with a beautiful head-dress, but it is in a deeply eroded state.”

The drapery covers her waist, hanging down between her legs and bears folds. Hands rest on her thighs and hold something which the ASI presumes are foodgrain. Mr. Babu says these features have striking similarities with the unique Yaksha, Yakshini images unearthed at important cultural sites like Beta, Patna, Deedarganj, Lauria, Nandanagarh, and Amaravathi of the Mauryan period.

The ASI team included K. Veeranjaneyulu, senior archaeologist, and KVSSN Murthy, caretaker.

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