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Thondaimandalam: Costumes and Jewellery
Gift Siromoney 
A paper read at a seminar organized by the Archaeological Society of India, October 14, 1973
also in Mahabalipuram Studies
Michael Lockwood, Gift Siromoney and P. Dayanandan
The Christian Literature Society, Madras 1974, pp. 87-105

The region in which Kanchipuram is situated is generally known as Thondaimandalam or the Pallava country. The area includes Chingleput district and parts of the districts of Chittore, North Arcot and South Arcot. The thondai creeper (Capparis zeylanica) after which the region is named is commonly found in the jungle areas and the creeper produces spectacular flowers in March, and bright red globular fruits later. The flowers were used by the Pallava monarchs in their garlands, and the fruits were compared to the red lips of pretty women by the Tamil poets.

1. Pre-Pallava Period

People of Thondaimandalam had very much in common with the people of the rest of Tamilnadu in matters of dress and ornaments. The antiquity of Kanchi goes back to the megalithic period, and the megalithic culture was spread over a vast area in South India. Excavations at these megalithic sites have yielded large quantities of shell bangles.

The sangam literature contains many descriptions of women wearing shell bangles. Perumbaanaatrupadai, composed on king Thondaimaan Ilamtirayan, describes people of Kanchi and Thondainaadu, in general. Ornaments referred to in the work include bangles (valai, thodi), golden ear ornaments (kuzhai), golden leg ornaments (silambu), and an ornament on the forehead (suravu vaai amaitha surumbu soozh sudar nuthal). All the above ornaments were worn by women. The ornaments gifted to men (minstrels) are generally referred to as poon. Women are described as wearing a thin cloth at the waist (nun tuhil). The minstrel (male) was presented with a costume made of fine thread (aavi anna avir nool kalingam). Both men and women are described as wearing flowers on their hair. And in one passage, a woman (minstrel's wife) is presented with a garland of gold, or necklace (ponnin thodai amai maalai).

One may get indirect evidence on dress and ornaments from other sangam poems, even though they may not specifically deal with the Thondai region. For example, .one may assume the wearing of bangles or spirals around the upper arm (they used the word "tho$zh" which now refers to the shoulders). Women used to decorate their waist with leaves, picked up from the jungle.1 Young men used to wear flowers above the ears as part of their self-adornment.2 Both men and women used to paint their bodies with sandalwood paste. Maid-servants attending on queens used to wear a breast-band (vambu).3

Apart from literary sources, one can turn to archaeological evidence. Excavations at Kanchi have revealed terracotta bangles, beads, and pendants.4 Excavations at Arikamedu5 near Pondicherry have produced terracotta figures, some of which are heavily draped in the form of a saree. These figures can be examined at the Government Library at Pondicherry. Dr T.V. Mahalingam, discussing the social conditions of this early period in the Chola country, has gone to the extent of claiming that the women folk wore nicely woven sarees and blouses6 A small panel in the Nagarjunakonda region unmistakably shows a saree-like single piece costume on a female figure of the rustic type. However, one does not come across anything like a saree depicted in later day sculpture and paintings till about the sixteenth century.

2. Pallava Period

Even though the Pallavas ruled from Kanchi from the fourth century onwards, we shall mainly deal with the period of the Pallavas of the Simhavishnu line, starting from the later part of the sixth century A.D. For the first time in this part of the country, stone temples were created from the early seventh century by Mahendra and his son, Mamalla Narasimha. A large number of sculptures depicting various kinds of costumes and jewellery are available for systematic study from the Pallava period.7 Many of the ornaments of the Chola and Vijayanagar periods owe their origin to the Pallava period. And the costumes and jewellery of the  Pallava period truly represent the costumes and jewellery of Thondaimandalam.

A study of the ornaments reveals a clear change and evolution of fashion in the courts of the Pallava rulers, and has become a powerful tool of the art historian with which to date the monuments to within a few decades.

We shall divide the Pallava period into three periods. First the Mahendra-Narasimha period; second, the Rajasimha period; and third, the late Pallava period. Obviously there is a gap between the first and the second as well as between the second and the third, but we are mainly interested in the difference in style between the three periods.

i. Mahendra-Narasimha Period (600 to 670 A.D.) 

The first period is represented by the cave temples of Mahendra, with large square pillars, cave temples of Narasimha with lion and vyala pillars, the Arjuna penance panels, and monoliths of Narasimha (the five rathas). Whether Narasimha built any structural temples at all has been a matter of dispute.

We shall assume that the dress and ornaments depicted on the sculptures actually existed and were in common use. The change of fashion in the Pallava court at Kanchi is reflected in the change of style in sculpture.

The characteristic costumes and jewellery of the period are the large patra kundalas (with an average diameter of 8 angulas compared to 12 angulas' height of the face), moderately high makutas (less than 24 angulas), thick single diagonal band across the chest for men, and absence of leg ornaments for men. For women, the breast band (when present) is broad, they wear a brief bikini-like garment (often without any other dress) and single leg ornament on each leg, and they wear no diagonal band. Both male and female figures are depicted often with a makara kundala on one ear and a patra kundala on the other.

There are about six different kinds of crowns or makutas depicted in this period. The short krita makuta found on Mahendra and Narasimha in the Adivaraha cave is also found on the maids-in-waiting of Gajalakshmi in the same temple. Usually Vishnu is decked with the cylindrical krita makuta, but the reclining Vishnu in the Shore Temple complex appears to be unique in having  jatamakuda. (Is Vishnu depicted. as sleeping after having removed his krita makuta?) Siva and the rishis (Arjuna penance) are shown with jata makuta. It is a way of gathering up the thick locks of hair in the form of a makuta. Jewels and flowers are added to this arrangement. One also finds the karanda makuta in the shape of inverted pots depicted on many figures in the Arjuna penance and Krishna mandapa. Like the jata makuta, and unlike the krita makuta, the karanda makuta is a form of arrangement of hair. On the kritas are tied side plaques studded with pearls and colored stones. The crowns, especially the krita makuta,  are kept secure on the head with a patta (going over the forehead) tightened at the back with a circular buckle called the siras chakra (found, among other places, on the figures of the Dharmaraja ratha). 

About ten different varieties of kundalas can be noted in Mahabalipuram. Some of the varieties such as those found on the royal portraits in the Adivaraha cave are not met with outside of Mahabalipuram. There are also other tiny ear ornaments worn on parts of the upper ear. On the Dharmaraja ratha there are figures of men (gods) with flowers tucked above the ears.

The peculiar kundalas of the Adivaraha cave are also found in the Kotikal mandapam and in the Arjuna penance panel. The kundala on the dvarapalika in the Kotikal mandapam is similar to the one on king Mahendra. A large kundala with four circular petals, found on the queen of Mahendra, is also found on one of the celestial figures in the Arjuna penance panel. Both male and female figures are shown wearing contrasting kinds of kundalas on different ears.

Some of the kundalas were probably terracotta pieces. Such kundalas have actually been discovered in excavations. Some people must have worn leaves and flowers in the place of kundalas of precious metals, as can be seen from the pastoral scene in the Krishnamandapa. With the single exception of the figure of the minstrel on the Dharmaraja ratha, all human and divine figures have their ears pierced. In a few cases figures are shown without kundalas, but with long ear-lobes, and some times with tiny ornaments on the lobe.

The ratna kundala which is common in medieval sculptures is not found in this period. No nose ornament is found either in the Pallava or  the early Chola period.

Necklaces and garlands went under the name of maalai in Tamil. Necklaces often without a pendant (thooku) are depicted on both male and female figures. There are similarities between necklaces depicted in Mahabalipuram and in the caves of Ajanta. For example, a short necklace with a cylindrical centre piece flanked by globular pieces, depicted on many male figures on the Dharmaraja ratha, is very similar to the pearl necklace with a blue central piece worn by Bodhisattva Padmapani of the Ajanta murals. The necklace with large globular pieces found on the royal portrait on the southern side of the Dharmaraja ratha must be identified as a necklace of large pearls and not as a rudraksha mala, as is often made out. The short necklace worn high up on the neck is conspicuously absent. Flower garlands are worn across the chest as a diagonal band by the dvarapalakas and ganas, but the details on these are not as clear as in the Chola period. The yagnopavita, or the diagonal band, is thick, and it may or may not go over the right arm. Many of the dvarapalakas of the Mahendra caves are shown with the band going over the arm in some cases and not going over the arm in other cases (in the same temple!). A long maalai going diagonally across the chest in both directions is called the veera sangili, or swarnakshaka, and  is found on many figures. There are many varieties of such an ornament.

Men, especially the dvarapalakas and chauri-bearers, are often shown with a stomach belt called the udarabandhanam, worn above the navel. However, many of the deities are shown without the udarabandhanam.

Women are sometimes depicted with the breast-band (kachu). These breast-bands are without any shoulder straps. Neither Parvati nor Lakshmi nor Bhudevi is depicted with the breast-band. But the female guardians, Durga, and the celestial nymphs (Arjuna penance panel) are. The queens of Mahendra and Narasimha are depicted bare above the waist, but their bodies would have been painted with kunkum, sandal paste and chunnam.

There are three main types of bands worn on the upper arm, viz. the arm bangle (tho$zh valai), the simple spiral (the early form of paapu surul) and the keyura (with elaborate decorations of pearls and gems) and different kinds of bangles. Women are occasionally depicted with a large number of bangles, but men always with only a few on each arm. This contrast is brought out in the Ardhanarisvara figure on the Dharmaraja ratha. The figures of this period are not depicted with rings on the fingers at Mahabalipuram.

The garments worn by the people are very simple. The long veshti is found mainly on Vishnu and the rishis. Some men are shown wearing a garment which resembles a pair of modern shorts, and some much shorter briefs, and some others with a narrow loin cloth (ko$vana aadai). Many male figures are shown with a long sash which is often worn around the waist with a semi-circular loop hanging in front. The sash (uttariya) is also shown as tied across the stomach in the case of some ganas and the royal figures of Mahendra and Narasimha. Most of the female figures are shown with just a single piece of garment worn in the shape of a panty. It must have been a Y-shaped piece of cloth tied at the back with the loose ends hanging down for a couple of feet or so. In the bathing Lakshmi scene (Varaha II cave) it is shown transparent to show the effect of wet cloth. This short garment for women  is very typical of this period. There are two examples where a woman is shown with the veshti without any folds. Women are not shown with any other kind of long garment. Occasionally women are also shown in shorts (vattudai). One is the queen of Mahendra.The sash is also shown worn around the waist on female figures. In a  few cases strings of pearls (mekala) are shown on the waist, but this is not common. No elaborate belt is shown either on the male or female figures.

Men are shown without leg ornaments. Women are shown with a single anklet on each leg (silambu, and some times kinkini). Some of the shepherd women depicted in the Krishna mandapa are shown without any leg ornament.

ii. Rajasimha Period (690-725)

Sculptures of the Rajasimha period are well-preserved in the Kailasanatha temple, Kanchi, and in some portions of the Shore temple, Mahabalipuram. Most of the Kailasanatha sculptures are in sandstone, a material easily available in Kanchi itself. The makutas of this period are very tall (more than 24 angulas -- twice the face height) for men. For women a peculiar garland-like hair style, pinched in the middle, is found at the base of the tall crown-like portion. People tend to wear the same kind of kundala on both ears, and the size of the patra kundala is reduced to a diameter of about 3 angulas. For the first time one can see the original colours in which the costumes were depicted from the painted panels and sculptures of the Kailasanatha temple. The  siraschakra is shown as a large circle at the back of Siva's head in the Somaskanda panels. The siraschakra is much larger here than the ones found on the later Pallava bronzes.

Women are represented with a diagonal band of pearls which may or may not go between the breasts. The tight necklace high up on the neck (choker) appears for the first time. The diagonal band for men divides into three strands: one goes down vertically through the veshti, another which is broad drops vertically then passes around the right side of the body, and the third (composed of threads) goes round the lower chest on the right. This arrangement of the diagonal band becomes very common in the Chola period.

The breast-band shown on Durga and maids-in-waiting has vertical shoulder straps. (The vertical straps disappear in the late Vijayanagar period.) The tight-fitting saree (without the upper portion) worn in the fashion of the Bharatanatya dancer, going round each leg, comes into fashion. On the ankles many anklets of different types are worn at the same time.

Men are depicted with anklets for the first time, though these anklets are found mainly on the dvarapalakas and the dancing forms of Siva. Such anklets are made up of small globular bells. Rings are shown on fingers and toes. In general there is more elaborate ornamentation in this period, a fact which perhaps reflects the prosperity of the times.

The two emblems of Vishnu, the chank and chakra, appear with flames for the first time.

iii. Late Pallava Period (750-900)

This period may be treated as a time of decadence for the Pallavas. The crowns get shorter, and the figures become more formalized. Most of the sculptures must have been based on a canon and a formula. The kundalas are relatively small. The patra kundala is often turned so as to show the full circle. The diagonal band for women continues. The shoulder strap for the breast-band sometimes has the shape of an inverted Y where it joins the breast-band. The lion-face buckle for the belt appears. Perhaps the earliest example of this buckle in Thondaimandalam can be seen at the Vaikunthaperumal temple, Kanchi. The brief bikini-like garment gradually disappears and is replaced by the saree (without the top). Depiction of a single leg ornament becomes common. For men the leg ornament is found on practically every figure towards the end of this period.

3. Applications

One may ask how useful is this exercise of studying in detail the variations in the style of dress and ornaments. We shall cite as examples three cases where the application of such a detailed study leads to significant results.

i. Manimangalam Pillars

The differences in style between the three Pallava periods are not only found in matters of costumes and jewellery, but also in motifs such as the lion and vyala. All the Narasimha lions found at Mahabalipuram have canine teeth curved backward along the mouth. The hair of lions on the pillars are represented as whorls in the form of a spiral. For the vyalas the hair is depicted in tufts in the shape of a mango. These animals do not have any garlands or other ornaments. Neither are they depicted with human-like breasts.

 In the Rajasimha period the animals have large canine teeth jutting more or less vertically downwards out of the mouth which has many other teeth. The mane is represented in a ribbon-like fashion, and not in spirals. There is also a garland design around the face. The Rajasimha animals sport a diagonal band of bells. One sees the outline of circular human-like breasts on them. Their eyes bulge more noticeably. In the third period (Vaikuntha Perumal temple) the characteristics of the second period are shown more pronounced. The eyes bulge even more-in the vyalas their eyes are shown as jutting out from the base of their horns. There are more than one garland on these animals in some instances. Their hair is shown in wavy lines. Their breasts are more clearly shown as circular and woman-like, even though they are elsewhere obviously shown as male.

With these general observations in mind, if one examines the two remarkable granite "lion" pillars in the vicinity of the Vaikuntha Perumal temple of Manimangalam, one can date the pillars on stylistic grounds. Both pillars have torus mouldings. One has a sedant lion and the other a sedant vyala at the base. They have all the characteristics of the Narasimha period, and none of the Rajasimha period, or the later Pallava characteristics. In addition, each animal is depicted with a patta tightened at the back with a siraschakra. There is no doubt that these pillars originally belonged to a structure of Mamalla8 who defeated Pulakesin II at Manimangalam. The structure must have remained intact at least till the Chola period as is attested by the presence of Rajendra's inscriptions on certain other Pallava period pillars lying near the temple. The presence of these granite pillars at Manimangalam would provide evidence that Mamalla's sculptors were capable of quarrying large granite pillars for structural temples.

ii. Chamundi

As a second example, let us look at the group of the seven virgins kept on a mound on the eastern side of Mahabalipuram. The central figure is larger than the rest of the figures and represents Chamundi.9 This figure wears as a garment the bikini-like dress so typical of the Narasimha period. It does not have any ornament or belt on the waist. It has different kundalas on either ear. The patra kundala on its left ear  is enormous, There is a single ornament on each leg. All of these characteristics fix it in the Narasimha period. Consequently one has to revise the prevalent view that worship of the seven virgins, including Chamundi, only started in the eighth century.

iii. Authorship of Mahabalipuram

As a third example, one may take up the case of authorship of Mahabalipuram monuments. The kundalas depicted on the figures of the Krishna Mandapa and Arjuna's penance panel, the Adivaraha cave, and the Five Rathas, are often as large as the kundalas represented in Mahendra's cave temples, and never as small as the ones represented on Rajasimha's Kailasanatha and Shore temples. We can see clearly the difference in the depiction of the makutas, kundalas, yagnopavita, breast-band, and leg ornaments. The study of dress and ornaments enables one to reaffirm the Mamalla authorship of most of the monuments of Mahabalipuram. In the light of the study of dress and ornaments, the theory that Rajasimha himself built all the monuments of Mahabalipuram, including the Rathas and the Penance panel can no longer be maintained.

iv. Memorial Stones of the Chengam Area

During the recent past a number of memorial stones with Vatteluthu characters have been brought to light.10 Even though the stones are found in rather inaccessible places, one can study the photographs of the estampages taken from the stone slabs. They include flat reliefs of the slain soldiers which have been carved on the stone slabs. The hero stones are from the Simhavishnu period to the Vijayanagar period. A study of dress and weaponry shows that some of the stones are contemporaneous with Mahabalipuram monuments. 

Two kinds of soldiers are depicted in the Pallava period one with a sword, shield, and dagger, and the other with bow and dagger. At Mahabalipuram there are three sets of dvarapalikas for Durga one at the Kotikal mandapa, another at the Adivaraha cave, and the third at the Draupadi ratha. In all three cases, one guard has shield and sword, and the other the bow and arrow. The broad curved sword is represented in all the three cases mentioned above, with long (slightly curved) rectangular shield. We do not see at Mahabalipuram the large circular shield. In the hero stones, the large curved sword is depicted in the Simhavishnu and late Mahendra (39th year) period (1971/35). The rectangular shield is seen in the late Mahendra (39th year) period. The dagger with the top of the handle turning away from the point, seen on a hero stone (1971/68) is very similar to the ones found at Mahabalipuram (for example, the one on the soldier woman in the Mahishamardini scene). It is significant that the hair-style of the heroes from the Simhavishnu to Mamalla periods resembles the hair style of the Mahabalipuram Chamundi, with its small 'crown' at the top. This hair-style is similar to the jatabhara style. In addition to the knee-length veshti, a sash is represented on the hero stones of the Pallava period.

In the Chola period, the hero figures are mainly represented with a sword and a bow, with the enemies' arrows piercing the hero. The sword is a large version of the early dagger, and is held in the fashion of holding a dagger. The jatabhara is replaced by a hair-style with a bun either at the back of the head or at the top of the head. The hero does not wear a sash a characteristic reflected in Chola bronzes where Siva is often depicted without the sash. A triangular piece of garment worn in front at the waist is seen in the hero stones as well as the Chola bronzes.

4. Chola and Vijayanagar Periods

From the tenth to the thirteenth centuries, the Cholas held sway over Thondaimandalam, and the latest Chola inscription is found at Pammal, near Pallavaram.11 There was an interregnum of Telugu Choda rule along with strong Pandya influences in the 13th and early 14th centuries. After a brief period of uncertainty due to Malikafur's invasion, the Vijayanagar influence came to stay. It is clear that the post-Pallava period exhibited a mixture of the different influences of kingdoms of the powerful neighbouring kings who ruled over Thondai-nadu, and the Pallava influence disappeared. The depiction of the long diagonal band going over the right arm (nivitha fashion) became rare. In the Chola period a small band of pearls becomes common on the upper arm below the keyura and near the elbow. The udarabandha generally used by men was also worn by women occasionally.12

5. The Evolution of Certain Images

To demonstrate the evolution of style in dress and ornaments, we shall trace the changes in the depiction of the dvarapalakas, Somaskanda and Gajalakshrni themes.

i. Dvarapalakas through the Ages

The early Mahendra dvarapalakas are huge, fierce-looking (especially in Siva temples), facing front and highly flexed. In some Siva shrines, one door-keeper is shown with a pair of horns (part of the trisula) and the other with an axe-blade in front of his makuta. Sometimes snakes take the place of diagonal band (Vallam). In Vishnu shrines, one door-keeper has the chank and the other the chakra (with edge towards the observer) at the top of the makuta (Mahendravadi, Adivaraha, and Varaha II caves). They have no leg ornaments. 

During the Rajasimha period the Saivite door-keepers have either the horns or triple bladed axe-heads on the makuta. The part of their body below the waist is turned towards the sanctum, whereas their torsos are twisted and face away from the  sanctum. They wear garlands of bells, and have anklets of bells. They continue to have only a single pair of arms. In the late Chola period, the dvarapalakas are represented with four arms, the upper hands usually holding the weapons associated with their respective deities. At the Brihadisvara temple at Tanjore, the dvarapalakas are huge figures with the trisula at the top of their makuta. The chank and chakra of Vaishnavite door-keepers have flames. The chakra is seen as a full circle facing the observer. One of the Chola kings brought back a stone statue of a dvarapalaka as a war trophy from the western Chalukya capital.13 Are the two-armed dvarapalakas at the entrance of the Varadaraja temple at Kanchi also war trophies? Of the two dvarapalakas, one has a chank and the other the chakra (both with flames) on the makuta, and the full chakra is facing the observer, unlike the Pallava style where the edge faces the observer.

ii. Somaskanda

The Somaskanda theme, synthesising the Siva, Skanda and the Sakti cults, originated during the Narasimha period and became very popular during the Rajasimha period. For the Saivites it was a temple and to the worshippers of Muruga it represented the presence of Murugan (Guhaalaya14). In the Narasimha period (Dharmaraja ratha top shrine) the figures have the typical ornaments of the Mahendra-Narasimha period. During the Rajasimha period, in addition to the change of costumes, Brahma and Vishnu are depicted at the back of the throne. Siva and Parvati are represented in postures (mainly leg and hand postures) different from the Narasimha period and the later Chola period. In the Rajasimha period, Siva has neither the udarabandha nor anklets (an exception is found in the Mukundanayanar temple where Siva is shown with anklets) and does not hold the axe and antelope in his upper hands. Parvati is half turned towards the viewer, whereas in the Narasimha period she is shown in profile, and in the Chola period fully turned towards the worshipper. Even in the Rajasimha period, some canon must have been strictly followed for the representation of the Somaskanda, as can be seen from the uniform repetition of the theme in more than forty cases at Kailasanatha temple. This canon must have been quite different from the texts followed by the Cholas. In the Chola period, the ornaments change and Parvati is shown with either the diagonal band (poon) or the cross band. Skanda may be sitting, standing, or dancing between Siva and Parvati on the pedestal or at the foot of the pedestal. The pattern of wearing different kundalas on the different ears gets standardized in the case of Siva, who is required to wear the patra kundala on the left ear.15 The crown gets more conical and less cylindrical. Siva is now represented with the Udarabandha and with anklets. In many bronzes, the Skanda figure is found missing or broken off, and this fact may reflect the religious rivalry between the Skanda and the Virasaiva cults.

During the earliest period, the Somaskanda panel at the back of the sanctum must have been the object of worship. During the Rajasimha period the linga was present in the sanctum in addition to the Somaskanda panel. During the post-Rajasimha period, the panel is moved out of the sanctum. At Tiruttani (Veerataanesvara temple) one finds the panel on the vimana without Skanda. In the Vijayanagar period, Somaskanda is also called Thyagaraja (Tiruvaarur).

iii Gajalakshmi

The earliest Gajalakshmi is the one found at the Adivaraha cave (though this priority is not universally accepted) and the next is at Varaha cave II, and both belong to the Narasimha period. The krita has a conical top and a broad base. The cross bands are short and go close to the body of Lakshrni in the Adivaraha cave; whereas the cross-band is long and goes over the arm in the Varaha cave II. The Gajalakshmi of Rajasimha's period found near the entrance of the Kailasanatha temple wears much longer cross-bands. The attending maids wear breast-bands with shoulder straps, and on their legs a large number of ornaments in the style typical of the Rajasimha-period. In the Mahendra-Narasimha period, Lakshrni is never portrayed as consort of Vishnu. In the Rajasimha period, Vishnu as well as Brahma are shown with consorts, as can be seen from the Shore temple and Kailasanatha temple. From the Rajasimha period, the elephants of the panel are depicted in a symmetric fashion. In the post-Rajasirnha period, the Gajalakshmi theme is shown in a conventionalized form where the image of Lakshrni is represented in a highly symbolic manner (as seen at the Visalesvara temple near Ramakrishna Maharajpet, not far from Tiruttani). Lakshmi is also portrayed as one of the Saptamatrikas. In spite of these variations, the Gajalakshmi theme in its more classical form does continue into the late periods.

6. Some General Observations

Many generalizations have been made on the costumes and jewellery of the Pallava period based mainly on the bronze images,16 but many of these generalizations do not hold good for the Pallava period as a whole, since none of the so-called Pallava bronzes belongs to the Narasimha or Rajasimha periods. According to Sivaramamurthy, the ornament siraschakra evolved from the idea of a halo decorating the head of a deity, and it became rather diminutive in the Pallava period and not visible from the front. As a matter of fact, the siraschakra is a functional ornament used as a buckle to secure the krita to the head with the pattar. The siraschakra is rather small in the Narasimha period, but gets quite large in the Rajasimha period and is visible from the front as worn by Siva in all the Somaskanda panels. It is even larger in the late Pallava period (Saptamatrikas, Tiruttani). It does not have just eight petals, but more. It is not worn by just deities, as can be seen from the siraschakra worn by the lions of the Manimangalam pillars.

The karanda makuta of the Pallava period is believed to be diminutive (according to Sivaramamurthy), but it is true only of the post-Rajasimha period, and does not hold good for the entire Pallava period. Decorations on the ear are noticed in the bronzes at the end of the Chola period, but we find earlier examples of them on the figures of the Dharmaraja ratha in the Narasimha period, and also in the Rajasirnha period. In the bronzes, the patra kundala is observed only in the late Pallava and early Chola period, but it is depicted on the Mahabalipuram stone Chamundi of the Mahendra-Narasimha period. The breast band is almost totally absent (according to Sivaramamurthy) in Pallava bronzes, except on Durga, But we can trace the evolution of the breast band from the Narasimha period to the post-Rajasimha period.

There are some interesting questions on costumes and jewellery which elude satisfactory answers. We know, for instance, that all the monuments of Mahabalipuram were once painted all over. We find the Somaskanda panels of the side shrines of the Kailasanatha temple have revealed coats of paint at the time of cleaning. We find traces of paint on the Trimurthi cave and Arjuna ratha, and Krishna mandapa. We do not find rings on the fingers and toes in Mahabalipuram sculptures of Mamalla period, but we do find them in the Kailasanatha temple of Rajasimha. Was the wearing of rings a common practice discontinued during the Mamalla period, or did the sculptors just paint the rings on at the time of finishing the work?

Another mystery is why the weapon vel is not represented in Mahabalipuram. We find it in Amaravati, and also at the Vaikuntha Perumal temple of Kanchi of the post-Rajasimha period. Why is kazhal, the leg ornament on men as described in the sangam literature, not found at Mahabalipuram? Is it because the Pallavas did not follow the local practice of men wearing anklets till the time of Rajasimha? Why is Parvati always represented without a breast band, whereas Lakshmi acquires one in the Chola period? If women wore sarees in the pre-Pallava period, if the terracotta figures can be taken as evidence, why did the practice disappear only to reappear around the sixteenth century?

Two peculiar kundalas from Adivaraha cave

Comparison of Manimangalam granite pillars with Mamalla and Rajasimha styles. (a) Mamalla lion with curved teeth, curly locks and no garlands. (b) Manimangalam lion (c) Rajasimha lion with long sabre teeth, wavy locks and garlands.

Comparison of ornaments of memorial stones and Adivaraha cave (a) Sword and shield from memorial stone period (b) from late Mahendra period (c) from Adivaraha cave.

A post Rajasimha style Somaskanda (nidur bronze)

1Kurinji pattu,101-102.
3Nedunal vaadai,150.
4 R. Subrahmanyam and K.V. Raman "Terracotta figurines and other objects from Kanchi excavations, 1962", Journal of Indian History, xlv, August 1967.
5 Ancient India, July 1946, p.102.
6 T.V. Mahalingam, "Excavations in the lower Kavery Valley", University of Madras, 1970. 
7 Gift Siromoney, "Mahabalipuram: costumes and jewellery", M.C.C.Magazine, xxxlx, April 1970, 76-83; and Weekly Mail, January 16, 1971.
8 Using the same criteria one may assign the "lion throne" at Mahabalipuram to the Mahendra-Narasimha period.
9 Michael Lockwood and Gift Siromoney, "A unique image of Chamundi",  The Sunday Standard, Madras, October 1, 1972.
10 R. Nagaswamy (ed.),"Chengam Nadukarkal" (Tamil), Madras,1972.
11 Gift Siromoney and Michael Lockwood, " New inscriptions from Tambaram area", The Sunday Standard, Madras, February 4,1973.
12 Raja Raja Cholan Ulaa, 366.
13 The Daraswaram dvarapala now exhibited at the Tanjore Art Gallery.
14 Avantisundarikathaasaara, II , vv. 37-38.
15 Kasyapa Silpa Sastra, 1960, Tanjore, p.258.
16 C. Sivaramamurti, South Indian Bronzes (New Delhi: Lalit Kala Akademi,1963). 

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