This is an old wooden almirah, with several rare indigenous artefacts, sent by the German missionaries from Tamilnadu during 18th century to Halle / Germany, thanks to the Francke Foundations, for preserving them for a period of more than 200 years. A bunch of peacock feathers, six hand – made colour painted palm leaf fans, one pair of leather foot wear, a miniature palanquin etc. can be seen in it.
These can now be found in the “Wonder Chamber” of the Francke foundations Archives. My special thanks to the Director Dr. Thomas J. Müller-Bahlke for permitting me to visit this Wonder Chamber and the photographer Mr. Klaus E.Göltz for the life-like original clarity photos. [ cf. Thomas J. Müller-Bahke, Die Wunderkammer: Die Kunst- und Naturalienkammer der Franckeschen Stiftungen zu Halle (Salle), Halle (Saale), 1998, pp. 90 – 95 ] Further information about this wonder chamber can be had from my post-doctoral major research project, published by Stanford University. Access code: http://purl.stanford.edu/xh950zd4962 pp. 521 - 524
This is a wooden box, known among native Tamilnadu / Tanjore traditional heritage artists as the “Tanjavoor Jewel Box” kept preserved in this wooden almirah. On the front side, we can see a Hindu Shaivite God, most presumably God Muruga or Karthikeya with his two consorts Valli and Deivaanai and two devotees – one on each side, with the holy ash marks on their arms. The peacock painting is associated with this God.
One pair of spikes footwear. One metal oil lamp stand / camphor vessel and one palm leaf hand - made fan. Who and how these sharp nailed foot wears were used, was there any bleeding for the users and what other coloured balls found in this visual, are all subjects of research for cultural historians!
In this almirah, a miniature palanquin can be seen with the palanquin bearers, reclining pillows, two hand-made colour painted palm leaf fans (which still retain the colour paints!). Palanquins were status symbols of the rich and affluent society, during the ancient and medieval periods and also during the British Raj in India!
(Painting of God Krishna on a pipal leaf)
On the top of this wooden cabinet, we can see the typical traditional and cultural “AAL ELAI KANNAN” artifact. “Aal” refers to the pipal tree, “Elai” means leaf. The Hindu God Krishna / Kannan, one of the ten incarnations of God Vishnu, drawn and painted on a pipal leaf by a native artist. The traditional divine black / blue colour with certain jewels on the body of the child God, with his left toe inserted into his mouth – are all innate technical nuances of the Vaishnavite cult. This is just one sample for the admirable painting skill of the indigenous Tamil artists. A native Tamil citizen is seen writing on a palm leaf with a metal stylus. Also, four palm leaves manuscripts can also be seen. Just above on the top of this painting, a few Tamil letters can also be seen.
The legend below reads: “Die farbenprächtigen Bekrönungsmalereien faszinieren durch ihren Realismus und die Detailtreue“
“The colorful coronation paintings fascinate with their realism and dependable / authentic detail”
Just below this wooden almirah, a two door cabinet was opened for me to see inside – to my surprise – a miniature Vishnu temple with the two consorts of the God – Sri Devi and Bu Devi and with the conventional conch and wheel - the typical divine heritage weapons of God Vishnu.
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