dakshin rai (Figure)

About this object

History of use

Dakshin Rai is used in the festival of the last day of the month of Pauch (December-January), after harvest, in celebration of Makara Sangranthi. Makara refers to the zodiac sign representing half crocodile and half elephant. After the festival this figure remains as a tiger deterrent. This Shaivite village god is guardian figure of the south, lord of the tigers, and is worshipped (puja) as a ritual mask in the form of a tiger god. Boatmen, fishermen, and woodcutters worship Dakshin Rai for the use of resources, and they also offer their first harvest to this deity. Dakshin Rai is mainly found in 24 Paraganas District especially in the lower courses of the rivers (Bada Anchal).

Cultural context

ritual image

Iconographic meaning

Symbolizes the ritual mask of the tiger god. High crown of kingship is associated with Hindu iconography "Kirita Mukhuta". Also associated with southern provincial administrator of the ancient Bengali administration.

Physical description

Terra cotta figure painted with white with black and red design. Neck and head are rounded like a vase, but is open at both ends. The forehead continues into 'slab-trident-crown' which forms headpiece above the head.