VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Mayura Vahana (Peacock Vehicle)
1995-01827
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

The conception and execution of this peacock vehicle is charming and neat. The fully spread out feathers of this bird lend a majestic look to the piece. It is holding a snake in his beak while a five-hooded snake lies under him; clearly, the artisan conceived this bearing in mind the height at which the mount would be carried and viewed. Seen from the front, profile or rear, the vehicle has something to offer in its impressive form. A clean play of lines and curves reflect the mastery in wood carving that the craftsmen of this region had achieved.

History of the Object
Vahana (vehicles/mounts) serve as mythical carriages of the Hindu Gods. This mayura vahana (peacock vehicle) is the mount of Lord Kartikeya or Murugan. It was carved in Tamil Nadu. Large-sized vahanas of this kind are especially used for temple processions to mount the movable, bronze images of deities. In south India, especially in Tamil Nadu, annual week-long to ten-day-long festivals known as Brahmotsava are organized. On each day, a deity is adorned, mounted on a vehicle and paraded around the temple courtyard and the streets of the city—a ritual known as darshana. Oil torches and traditional music accompany the entourage. This peacock vehicle would have been used in similar temple processions. A huge crowd of devotees and casual visitors usually gather for a glimpse of their favourite God atop his mount. Such festivals are celebrated in Madurai, Shrirangam and Chennai, the more traditional towns where age-old religious practices are still followed with great fervour.

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Type
Sculpture 
Materials
Wood 
Measurements
180 cm 
Creator name
Unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
Tamil Nadu in southern India 
Geography
India 
Time period
AD 20th century ~ AD 20th century 
Creation date
20th century 
Function
This peacock vehicle was used in the sacred context of a temple procession. The bronze deity of Lord Murugan was mounted atop this vehicle and taken around the temple town in a procession. Thus this vehicle enabled devotees to view the deity. The vehicle was also considered sacred and revered. 
Acquisition
This vehicle was purchased by the Museum in 1995. In the Museum display, it is used to highlight the different animal vehicles for various temple deities. 
Copyright
Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore 
Acknowledgements
Gauri Krishnan and Priya Jaradi 
Owner
Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore 
Museum
Asian Civilisations Museum 
Credit line
Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore 

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