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

Murugan, Skanda, Kumara (the prince) and Kartikeya, are the names of Shiva's and Parvati's son. Names vary according to location worshipped. Created to slay demon, Taraka, with his symbol, the spear (vela), made from the sun's rays, his illuminating power. Six images portray each episode in his life: the ascetic; slaying the demon; with his two wives; with his father, Shiva, portrayed with his aspects, the crescent moon and river, Ganges, sprouting from his head; as Skanda, he is considered the war god in northern India; and as Murugan and Kartikeya, he is the mountain god in fertility cults in southern India.

Physical description

Square shaped calendar print depicting various stories of Murugan. In the centre is Murugan as a youth with shoulder-length dark brown hair with a red robe draped over shoulder on right, chest and arm on left. He holds a gold lance in his left hand while making gesture with his right hand. A white, green and pink flower garland is around his neck. He wears a gold, jeweled crown and other jewelry. Six small scenes encircle the central figure. Going clockwise from the upper right: Murugan with little clothing and shaven head of an ascetic; Murugan attacking giant/demon with his spear; a marriage scene, with a male attendant; youth with his two consorts; youth with a gold lance and banner; and Shiva with baby Murgan on his shoulder. Shiva has a crescent moon, spout of water from top knot, cobra around neck, and lion/leopard skin tied at waist. Background has grey cloud. Black inscription at top and bottom centre.