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

Murugan, great integrator among divinities and perfect son of Shiva and Parvati, is the divine child and source of power, love, and wisdom. He is the warrior god who defeats Taraka, the evil demon/giant, with his lance, 'Sakti-vel'. When defeating a demon of ignorance, Murugan is shown with multiple arms. Also identified by: appearing together with Parvati, Ganesh, and/or Shiva; three white lines and third eye or ascetic symbol stating association with Shiva; attendant peacock, feathers of which have many eyes radiant of the sun; Brahminical thread across chest; moon, toy; red and gold in association with the earth and sun; and the rooster. Other names for Murugan are: Karttikeya, Skanda, Subrahmanya, and Kumara. Naming varies regionally.

Physical description

Rectangular calendar print depicting Murugan with long, dark brown wavy hair with his left arm bent and his palm facing upwards; right hand raised in front of chest with his palm outward facing and fingers pointing up; holds gold thin-shafted lance. Wears red wrap covering left shoulder. He is decorated with pearl, gold and jewel necklaces, armbands, bracelets and earrings; brown bead necklace. Three white parallel horizontal lines and a red dot on Murugan’s forehead and the lance head; lines on arms. White halo with radiating rays behind head. Blue and brown peacock on right partially hidden by boy; two blurred brown temple-like structures flank boy; one brown shape behind boy's head. Ground is yellow, green and brown graduated colouring with some brown patterning. Lighted lamps around edges. Aum symbol and star each in a circle at the lower corners, Indian script and flowers between. Below image is advertisement for "Ever Green Industries" and address in green; all on green dot background. Sewn to base, four page "1970" calendar, green and red lettering on white paper; front page has a piece ripped-off. Metal edge at top.