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

Meenakshi, or 'fish-eyed' goddess, signifies beauty and attentiveness. As a patron deity, she offers protection from poverty. As consort she is considered the incarnate of Parvati, chief consort to Shiva, lord of paradox, both creator and destroyer of the universe. She is identified by: green skin; age as sixteen years to represent the prime of maidenhood; parrot on lotus which she holds as symbol of fertility and beauty; with Shiva to represent the divine couple; three white ash bands on forehead to identify her as a devotee of Shiva; and garlands and ornaments to glorify her as the epitome of the eternal jewel.

Physical description

Rectangular yellow calendar with a central image of Meenakshi, a green skinned female holding green parrot perched on a pink flower in her right hand. She stands on a square gold plinth within ornately decorated gold niche composed of platform and u shaped arch. Purple background within niche. Meenakshi wears: gold trimmed pleated pink sari; pearl strings around neck; bluish white floral garland draped around shoulders; tall jeweled gold crown and necklaces. Three parallel horizontal white lines and red dot on forehead. White halo shape behind head. Left arm at side. Two flying winged boys flank top of arch. Blue background behind niche which rests on tiled floor. "A. & F. Harvey Merchants and Cotton Spinners" in blue, yellow and red block letters at top; blue print calendar and "Madura Mills Co. Ltd." in red block letters at base; pictorial illustrations of yarn on both sides of female image; three stamps: red, dark pink and light pink, arranged below. Top and base are metal edged.