sara (Plaque)

About this object

History of use

This is one of a variety of objects of ritual use called a sara. Normally, this saucer-like object is used to cover large earthenware pots, but has been converted to this use as a less expensive substitute for the large clay images of the divinities. Saras in their contextual use are put on the altar during religious worship (puja). Paintings on saras are strongly reminiscent of the Pat Style of Bengali painting including styles like Kalighat (executed by the Patuas until the 1930's). Patua groups often became potters when painting skills were no longer economically feasible.

Iconographic meaning

The iconographic forms represented here are those of the Hindu goddess Lakshmi (Loki in Bengali) and her vehicle (vahana), the owl. Lakshmi is one of the forms of the consort of Vishnu. She is commonly the goddess of wealth and prosperity and is a special favourite of women.

Physical description

A rounded circular piece of pottery which is convex on the outer side, and .75 cm. thick, with the face of which has been painted white. In the centre, there is a female figure painted yellow. She is sitting on a flower design wearing an orange garment and a white necklace. At her left foot, there is yellow bird-like figure. Concave side is unpainted. On the top, two small holes are drilled for string tie, by which this can be hung up.