Hoysala sculpture and architecture – Belur (14)
Majority of the sculptures that appear on outer side of the wall of Chennakesava temple, Belur, belong to Vaishnava faith, which means that the ornamentation and decoration consist of holding Sankha(the Conch shell), Chakra (the Wheel), Padmam (the Lotus bud) etc., in the hands. Male or female sculptures which hold in their hands the things like Trisul (the Trident), Damarukam etc., belong to Shaiva faith. Sculptures belonging to Shaiva faith also appear on the walls of Chennakesava Temple, Belur, indicating that the Hoysala kings patronized followers of both the faiths. However, when compared, it appears Shaiva sculptures are less in number than the sculptures that belong to Vaishnava faith, since the forms of Vishnu and Sri Lakshmi appear very frequently than the figures of Shiva and Parvati. The one female sculpture that appears with reassuring certainty and enormous power in her posture and demeanors is the sculpture of Shakti or Mahishaasura Mardani, believed to be the incarnation or physical manifestation of Parvati, Lord Shiva’s divine consort.
The above photograph shows three female figures on the temple wall of Chennakesava Temple, Belur. Each one of the three is different from the other two in the standing posture, in the way she held the things in her hands and in the way she had her hair dressed etc.