View right to left
front: Saint Sundarar with wife Paravai back: Saint Sundarar with wife Paravai

Saint Sundarar with wife Paravai

Historical period(s)
16th century
57.2 x 37.1 x 19.0 cm
India, Tamil Nadu
Credit Line
Gift of Arthur M. Sackler
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
During puja images of Hindu gods, goddesses, and saints are often bathed and dressed to honor the deity or the saint they portray. This bronze sculpture represents the saint Sundara and his wife, Paravai, followers of the god Shiva. It is dressed as it would be when carried through the streets of a southern Indian city during a religious festival. For most of the year, an image such as this is kept in its own shrine in a large temple. Once a yeare during an eloborate puja, it is washed with holy water, then with milk, yoghurt, honey, sandalwood paste, and ashes before being dressed in ceremonial robes. It is lavishly adorned with garlands of flowers and may be decorated with jewelry. Priests then invoke the spirits of the deity or saint depicted to enter the sculpture. For the duration of the ceremony the image is thought to contain the deity's presence. In an elaborate procession, many sacred images are paraded through the streets, accompanied by thousands of devotees. Hindus believe that even a glimpse of an image filled with the spirit of the god or saint facilitates a direct visual communication (darshan) with the deity, which will bring blessings to the worsippers. Sundara was an eighth-century follower of Shiva whose focused devotion and performance of countless miracles with Shiva's aid were greatly responsible for the spread of the worship of Shiva in southern India. His wife, Paravai, is honored for her steadfast loyalty to both her god and her husband.
Provenance information is currently unavailable
On View Location
Currently not on view
Metalwork, Sculpture
casting, India, Paravai, Saint Sundarar
Collection(s) Area
South Asian and Himalayan Art
Web Resource(s)
Google Cultural Institute

Rights Statement
Copyright with museum

Get here quick! The Freer Gallery will close for renovation on January 4, 2016, so we can better present our art and serve our visitors. Check out to learn more and plan your trip.