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

The third eye, crescent moon, and cobra are major attributes of the Hindu deity, Shiva. The leaping antelope in his raised left hand and the axe in his right distinguish Shiva in south India from the trident and snake of north Indian images of Shiva. His second right hand projects the 'abhaya mudra' gesture (protection) and his second left hand projects the 'varada mudra' (charity). The dark green skin is a distinct feature of the Hindu goddess Meenakshi. Depicted as a sixteen year old in the prime of her maidenhood, her name means 'fish-eyed', signifying beauty and attentiveness. The lotus blossom and parrot she holds symbolize beauty and fertility. Together Shiva and Meenakshi represent the divine couple.

Physical description

Rectangular calendar print depicting Shiva and Meenakshi standing above a temple. Behind the figures is a yellow halo radiating outwards and fusing into a purple background. The female, Meenakshi, is wearing a red and gold sari; her skin is green. Her wrists and arms are adorned with gold bracelets. She holds a pink lotus in her hand on left. The male, Shiva, wears a blue and yellow cloth around his waist and a pink wrap around one visible shoulder. He holds a small gold axe in one hand; other two are raised up, one down with palm opens. Snake wrapped around one wrist. Around both their necks are gold necklaces and floral garlands. On their foreheads are three horizontal stripes; placed vertically in the centre is a third eye. Both wear similar conical-shaped gold crowns of which the top extension of the female's rest to the left side. The temple or city below the figures has two walls running perpendicular to each other which frame a courtyard in which a gold pole stands. Below the sight image is the name, in bold letters, and address of a business. 'C. Kondiah Raju' is written in the lower right corner of the image.