Sculptures estimated to be over 500 years old discovered near Tiruppur

Archaeological enthusiasts have recently discovered two stone sculptures, both of which are estimated to be over 500 years old and remained previously unidentified, in a temple near Tiruppur.

A team from Tiruppur-based Virarajendran Archaeological and Historical Research Centre visited Ponkaliamman temple at Poomalur in the first week of November, said the organisation’s director S. Ravikumar on Wednesday. The team visited the temple based on information given by a retired village administrative officer regarding the two sculptures that remained unidentified in the temple, he said.

The team identified the first sculpture to be that of Ayyanar, a folk deity who was widely worshipped in the Kongu region during the rule of the Chera, Cholas and Pandyas, according to Mr. Ravikumar. “Once [Kongu region] came under the Vijayanagara Empire in the 14th century, worshipping of Ayyanar declined,” he said. Based on the previous discoveries of Ayyanar sculptures in this region, the team estimated that this sculpture might have been created at around 12th century, according to Mr. Ravikumar.

Around 80 cm tall and 70 cm wide, the sculpture depicts Ayyanar in a seated posture. He is seen holding a weapon known as ‘sendu’ in his right hand and is flanked by his consorts Poorna and Pushkala. This deity might have likely been erected by merchants from Kongu region, who used the trade route that connected Mysuru in Karnataka and Pollachi in Coimbatore district, Mr. Ravikumar said.

The second sculpture depicts a woman being carried in a palanquin by six bearers. Though the identity of the woman could not be ascertained, it is likely to be the sculpture of a woman who was influential in the region around 14th century, he said. While its height is nearly the same as the Ayyanar sculpture at around 80 cm, its width is around 90 cm and shows the palanquin bearers holding weapons such as arrows and spears.

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