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. They are also used as book covers, cards, and packaging labels. 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. This packaging for safety matches was made in Sweden for distribution in India.

Cultural context

popular religious art

Iconographic meaning

Sacred trimurti or trinity of Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma.

Physical description

Part a: Exterior box. One length of thin wood, bent to form four sides. Brown gritty surface on two long sides. Blue paper covers base. Top has paper illustration. Part b: Interior box. Has wood sides, paper base, and is covered by blue paper. Slides out either end of exterior box. Top illustration of exterior box is three-headed male, only bare shoulders and heads shown. Heads arranged with one frontal-facing, two in profile facing right and left. All wear red cap-like headdresses, each with gold globe above head. Blue green background. White curved band at top states: 'Trimurti' in red. Yellow then black bands at base state 'safety matches' 'Made in Sweden' in red then black lettering. Black lettering by each face states name: 'Siva', 'Vishnu', then 'Brahma'.