10th century sculpture of Buddha found in Thanjavur

Times of India
TNN | Feb 1, 2015, 04.18AM IST

CHENNAI: A headless sculpture of Buddha, dating back to 10th century AD, has been found at Manalur village in Thanjavur district. It was found based on information given by a school teacher. Buddhist scholar B Jambulingam and heritage enthusiast Mani Maaran conducted a search in the region which led to the excavation of a three-foot sculpture of Buddha in a sugarcane field in Manalur, six km from Ayyampet. The head and right hand of the sculpture were missing. “The iconographical features of the sculpture show similarity to those found in the region earlier, mostly belonging to 10th-11th century AD. The findings of Buddha sculptures in and around the area show the existence of a Buddhist temple here,” said Jambulingam, superintendent of Tamil University, Thanjavur.

Buddhism came to Tamil Nadu during the 3rd century BC and prevailed in the Chola country up to the 16th century AD. In Thanjavur, Buddha sculptures were found in various places and the prominent among them are those in Vayyacheri, Cholanmaligai, Kumbakonam, Madagaram, Manganallur, Pattiswaram, Perandakottai and Vikramam. “Of these, only the head of the Buddha were found in Vayyacheri and Perandakottai. A couple of decades ago, a friend told me about a Buddha head he found near a tank in Vayyacheri.

He even sent a photograph of it. But when I went to conduct a field study, I couldn’t find it there. As the distance between Vayyacheri and Ayyampet is only six km, I believe the head might be the one of the Buddha sculpture we found now in Manalur,” he said.

Jambulingam’s search for Buddha idols began with an ordinary visit to a remote village in Thanjavur in the 1980s. He has so far identified 67 Buddha idols in Thanjavur, Tiruchi and Pudukottai districts during his field study. “Many Buddha sculptures are badly maintained. We have informed the concerned authorities about the new finding. We hope the state archaeology department will take care of it,” he said.

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