Processional image in the form of a fantastic bird, early 20th century

Unknown artist, expand_more
Not on Viewexpand_more

This radiating large swan bust would have formed part of a processional structure measuring more than forty feet tall. Unique to the Neelamperoor Pally Bhagavathi Temple, in the southwestern coastal state of Kerala, it would have been commissioned as an effigy to the goddess Kali during the Pooram Padayani festival. It is believed that once Kali was satisfied, she could assume the benevolent role of fertility goddess and bless the harvest of the once largely farm-based economy. The elaborately constructed effigy remains a highlight of this annual ritual. It is remarkable that an essentially ephemeral processional structure of this scale, age, and quality is so well preserved. The fluid integration of varied materials (cloth, mirrors, pigment, and wood) into a mesmerizing pattern demonstrates the wonders of Kerala’s ritual aesthetics. Recent conservation of this sculpture was made possible by a generous contribution from Leela and Kevin Scattum.

Processional image in the form of a fantastic bird
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Curator Approved

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