About this object

History of use

Indian popular religious prints have been published for nearly a century, first by German presses, later by Indian ones. The prints may take the form of calendars, posters, or simply images. The style of the representations is European. In the beginning they were Hindu images, but are now acquiring elements both of folk art and a romantic secularism. It is a living art currently influenced by the movie industry and non-Hindu religions. The images are a vehicle for advertising and are also used for religious purposes.

Cultural context

calendar art; popular religious art

Iconographic meaning

Meenakshi, or 'fish-eyed' goddess, signifies beauty and attentiveness. As a patron deity, she offers protection from poverty. As consort she is considered the incarnate of Parvati, chief consort to Shiva, lord of paradox, both creator and destroyer of the universe. She is identified by: green skin; age as sixteen years to represent the prime of maidenhood; parrot on lotus which she holds as symbol of fertility and beauty; with Shiva to represent the divine couple; three white ash bands on forehead to identify her as a devotee of Shiva; and garlands and ornaments to glorify her as the epitome of the eternal jewel. Shiva is identified here carrying out his dance of destruction. Also identified by his mount, Nandi, the bull.

Physical description

Rectangular shaped calendar with a central image of Shiva, a four armed male, dancing on back of small black haired male with moustache, lying on stomach. Dancing male has raised left leg; arms in various positions. Shiva is surrounded in a gold arch-like ring; enclosed background is dark blue. Back of platform has gold canopy supported by four gold columns on green plinths; area covered in dark brown. In the foreground at right, small bald headed male standing on circular plinth. Central, white bull lying upon rectangular plinth. First tier on left, standing bearded male, lower half serpent tail; on right standing bearded male, lower half tiger's hind- quarters; both praying to Shiva. Also on right, green skinned, Shakti in a pink sari, stands on plinth, holds lotus in right hand. Image set in cream coloured poster; "1944" calendar is composed of green squares down two sides; yarn spool illustrations in each upper corner. Company labels at image's base. Blue block lettering "A.F. Harvey" at top; "Madura Mills Co. Ltd., South India" at base. Top and base are metal edged.