Belur Chennakeshava Temple: Nagna Sundari (Nude Beauty) looking at the scorpion

Nagna Sundari (Nude Beauty) looking at the scorpian- A bracket figure mounterd on the exterior wall of the Belur Chennakeshava Temple in Karnataka, India

Nagna Sundari (Nude Beauty) looking at the scorpion

Nagna Sundari looking at the scorpion
This beautiful shilābālike, popularly known as Nagna Sundari (Nude Beauty), is standing elegantly and holding two ends of her dress as though she is undressing. She appears to look at the scorpion crawling on the side of the base at the bottom. Her facial expression suggests that she is scared. The story behind this shilābālike is anybody’s guess.

According to one story, she is shaking off the scorpion found in her dress. Another story suggests that she is a visha kanye (venomous girl) represented by the scorpion.

The legends of visha kanyes appear in many ancient Indian texts, including Kautilya’s Arthashastra, a treatise on statecraft authored by Chanakya, the Prime Minister of Emperor Chandragupta Maurya. It was believed that visha kanyes were very beautiful, but born with poisonous blood (or other bodily fluids). They were used to seduce powerful men on the enemy side and kill them with their poison.

Nagna Sundari is one of the 38 bracket figures mounted on the exterior wall surrounding the navaranga (the front portion of the temple). Each of these figures is attached to an inclined bracket placed just below the eaves of the temple. The base of the sculpture is mounted on the side of a pillar just below its capital. Nagna Sundari is mounted on the left most of the four pillars on the north entrance. She is figure number 15 in the navaranga layout.

Other Shilābālikes
Darpana Sundari, Sukha Bhashini, Nātya Sundari, Gāna Sundari, Kesha Sundari, Tribhangi, Nagna Sundari, Kapāla Durga, Koravanji, Nātya Mohini, Betegārthi

Male Bracket Figures
Flute playing male musician
Narthaka – Davane playing male dancer
Davane playing male musician

Related Pages
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Bracket Figures
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Navaranga
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Garbhagriha Outer Wall
Kappe Chennigaraya Temple
Somanathapura Keshava Temple – A Magnificent Temple Dedicated to Vishnu

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