Representations of Fauna Reveal Fascinating Glimpses of Ancient Goan Art | Goa News

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Keri: The content and representation of art encompasses a wide range of subjects. In Goa, whether it is sculptures, paintings or even architecture, fauna has always found an important place in the arts of the land, since prehistoric times.
Nestled in the hinterland of Pansaimol at Sanguem taluka, on the bank of the Kushavati, is a laterite rock on which a menagerie is carved. A similar artistic representation is observed in Cazur in Quepem taluka on a granite stone and in Mauxi in Sattari on a meta-basalt stone.
In Pansaimol, animals such as bison, zebu, deer and peacock, among others, are captured in rock art, while in Cazur it is the antelope, and in Mauxi, various forms of zebu .
Animals have even found their place among the various insignia of the dynasties that ruled Goa. The Southern Shilaharas, who ruled parts of Goa, had the eagle as their badge, but perhaps the best known is the badge of the Kadambas of Goa – the lion. The monkey-god Hanuman has found a place on their banner.
Moreover, the connection between the god and the fauna has also been immortalized in stone, whether in sculptures or panels.
Gajlaxmi panels depicting the goddess Laxmi in a seated posture with two elephants standing on either side pouring water over her head have been found at Gulle, Sattari. These date back to the Kadamba period.
Then there are sculptures of gods, like that of Ravalnath who is represented with a horse as a mount and Vetal with a scorpion on his chest or abdomen and a cobra wrapped around his neck.
The sculptures of the god Kartikeya and the goddess Saraswati have peacocks for their mounts. Shiva is always represented with a cobra wrapped around his neck.
This god-animal connection transcends religious lines in India. Jain Tirthankar’s sculptures, Parshavanath have a five-headed cobra on their head while St Augustine’s Church has stone carvings with floral designs.
Kaavi’s paintings, which flourished in Goa, also embraced floral and faunal elements, as did Goan architecture, furniture, pottery, and jewelry, all of which make up a vast repertoire of naturalistic motifs.
The jewelry was particularly inspired by the local flowers, leaves, fruits, snakes, birds and animals.
“As in other parts of India, artists and artisans in Goa have also drawn inspiration from nature,” said Archeology Survey of India archaeologist Abhijit Ambedkar.


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