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

Lord of the seven hills, Sri Venkatesvara is the visible god, friend in time of danger, and the south Indian eighth incarnation of Vishnu. This god of all gods is enshrined and 'resides' in his great temple, Andrha Pradesh, Tirumala Hills. Attributes are: blue black skin; flames symbolizing greatness and power; Vaishnavite symbols, the discus or wheel (cosmic axis of the universe), and conch shell (origin of existence), both nesting against his shoulders; vertical Vaishnavite band on forehead; gold-encased body; tall conical headdress; flower garland over head and shoulders; lotus', symbolic of purity; abstract vegetal and monster motif at top of archway; and coin offerings indicating him as god of prosperity.

Physical description

Rectangular calendar print depicting Sri Venkatesvara, a black faced figure, totally encased in ornamental gold, stands on gold round sloped-sided pedestal. Framed by two ornamental gold columns supporting arch. One white, pink and green striped floral garland draped from top of tall, cylindrical gold jeweled crown that figure wears. Background is black with space behind head blue and purple. White plaque covers forehead and nose; strings of gold coins and a striped pink, white and green floral garland draped around shoulders. Jewel encrusted objects at each shoulder. Hand on right curving upwards from figure's side; hand on left has outward facing palm patterned in green and white. On the floor are two silver bell shaped objects, lit gold lamp and flowers. Bottom quarter of calendar is light brown with blue Indian script. Metal edged at top and base.