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

Shiva is lord of paradox, both destroyer and creator who sets in motion change, or death and rebirth of the universe. Often shown with female creative nature represented by his counterpart, Parvati, Shiva's gentle, devoted, and loving wife, most common consort, known as the universal mother. She is often identified by a conical crown. Shiva also identified by: trident; blue skin; attendant bull; symbol of three white lines and third eye; hair arranged in topknot which spouts fountain of yogic power; crescent moon; tiger skin; snakes; sacred drum; lingum; and prayer beads. Couple also identified sometimes by presence of their two sons, Murugan and Ganesh: Murugan is identified by his lance, 'Sakti-Vel', and attendant peacock, Ganesh, by his elephant head and attendant rat.

Physical description

Rectangular calendar print depicting three gold figures, Shiva and Parvati with their son Murugan. Flanked by two ornate blue grey columns in blue grey background. Large four-armed Shiva on left and Parvati on right are seated on either side of a small Murugan standing on pedestal. All wear: jeweled gold conical crowns and extensive necklaces; striped yellow, green, white and pink floral garlands over shoulders. Shiva wears white dhoti and is seated on gold-pattered green robe. He holds one gold object in each in two upraised hands: prancing deer and long-stemmed container with axe-like projection at side. Two remaining hands are held with palms facing outward. Three white horizontal, parallel bands and red dot on his forehead. Parvati is in pink sari, holds gold flower in her right hand. Central male in blue dhoti holds gold lance upright, gold flower in each hand and white band motif on forehead and lance head. A conch shell with gold ends sits on a silver pedestal flanked by two silver chalices. 'N.V.S.' and Indian script in green, red, white, and yellow at calendar top; 'N.V. Shanmukam & Co.' in pink and purple Indian script at base.