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

Venkatesvara, the visible god (pratyaksha), friend in time of danger, (apatsakhe), the ocean of mercy; local manifestation of Vishnu; blackness indicates eighth incarnation of Vishnu, Krishna. He is all gods, lord of all lords, because his temple in Andhra Pradesh has all objects of the gods. Flames indicate greatness and power. Disc (chakram) is the cosmic axis of the universe or stem of the cosmic tree. Conch shell (sangu) indicates opulence, granting of wishes, and calls gods and scares demons. Richness of decoration indicates god of prosperity. Lotus flowers indicate purity and original creation aspect of Vishnu. Hand in varada mudra gesture offers boons. Abstract vegetal and demon motif at top of archway is lotus. Vertical mark on forehead is sign of Vishnu (namam). All the objects are characteristic of Vishnu.

Physical description

Rectangular shaped calendar print depicting a black-faced man, Sri Venkateswara. He is completely covered in gold armor, jewels and flower garlands in white, pink, green and yellow. White u-shaped mark on forehead. His right hand points downwards, palm showing; left arm hangs by his side. Elaborate, jeweled headdress and earrings. Circular object on left side of shoulder and conch shell on right side. Stands in gold gilt archway, two hanging, lit lamps on each side. Open pink lotus' scattered around figure of floor. Two objects in foreground and small flamed object. Wears Brahmin's string around right side of shoulder to left side of waist.