Somanathapura Keshava Temple: Manmatha, the god of love and desire

Manmatha, the god of love and desire carved on the outer wall of the Somanathapura Keshava Temple in Karnataka, India

Manmatha, the god of love and desire

Manmatha, the god of love and desire
This sculptural relief depicts Manmatha, the son of Vishnu and the Hindu god of love and desire. He is known by many names, including Kama and Kamadeva.

As you can see from the image, Manmatha is standing with a graceful stance on a lotus pedestal, holding a sugarcane bow (partly broken) with his left hand and the floral arrows with his right hand.

A variety of stylish jewelry adorns Manmatha’s well-proportioned body. He is wearing bracelets and arm rings on his hands, anklets on his legs, a beautiful necklace around his neck, and an udiyana (waist chain) around his waist. Hanging across his chest from the left shoulder to the waist is a looped thread, known as Yajnopavita, a symbol common to carvings of Hindu gods and deities. It indicates that the person wearing it has mastered the Vedas and has to undergo a ritual (i.e., Upanayana ) before that person starts wearing it.

Engraved into the base of this sculpture is an inscription, written in the Halegannada (Old Kannada) script, which reads as Mallithamma. It is the signature of Ruvari Mallithamma, the most prolific carver of sculptures in the Somanathapura Keshava Temple and many other Hoysala temples.

Related Images
Manmatha and Rathi – Carvings on the left and right door jambs of the main entrance door at the Belur Chennakeshava Temple
Manmatha and Rathi – Carved on the north exterior wall of the Belur Chennakeshava Temple
Manmatha Vijaya – A painting in Hampi Virupaksha Temple Murals

Related Pages
Hoysala Temples:
Somanathapura Keshava Temple
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Bracket Figures
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Navaranga
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Garbhagriha Outer Wall
Kappe Chennigaraya Shrine
Badami Chalukya Temples:
Badami, Cave – 1, Cave – 2, Cave – 3, Cave – 4
Durga Temple at Aihole
Vijayanagara Temples:
Hampi Virupaksha Temple Murals
Angkor Wat Temples:
Angkor Wat Temple, Angkor Wat Bas-Reliefs, Banteay Srei Temple in Cambodia

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