Horses of a little tradition

Print edition : May 12, 2017

Terracotta horses offered as part of "puravi eduppu" at the Ayyanar temple at Kottur Melavasal in Pudukkottai district. Photo: B. Velankanni Raj

Small terracotta figurines of a horse, cow and "madhalai" (infant) at the Ayyanar temple at Kottur Melavasal in Pudukottai district. Photo: B. Velankanni Raj

An array of terracotta horses at the Ayyanar temple at Kottur Melavasal. Photo: B. Velankanni Raj

Karu. Rajendran, a retired schoolteacher, epigraphist and an authority on the history and archaeology of Pudukottai district, seen with the terracotta horses of Kottur Melavasal Ayyanar temple. Photo: B. Velankanni Raj

An 18-feet tall stucco "seema kudirai" at the Villakkada Ayyanar temple at Rendivayal-Virachchilai village. The caparisoned horse is shown as emerging from a dragon's mouth. Photo: B. Velankanni Raj

Ayyanar depicted riding a horse. Villagers believe that Ayyanar protects them from evil spirits by keeping vigil at night. Painted and plain terracotta horses abound in this sacred abode of Ayyanar located in a scrub jungle on the outskirts of Nakkheeran Vayal. Photo: B.Velankanni Raj

A lavishly decorated elephant with howdah, carrying a king in all his regal splendour at Kulamangalam-Kannangudi Kovil. Photo: B. Velankanni Raj

Decorations on terracotta horses at Kulamangalam Kattu Kovil. Photo: THE HINDU

Thousands of terracotta horses lined up along the pathway to the Ayyanar temple at Ilangudipatti village. Photo: B. Velankanni Raj

At a sacred grove at Naarthamalai hill, a serene abode for Ayyanar. Photo: B. Velankanni Raj

A gallery of terracotta horses and cows near the Poi Solla Mei Ayyanar temple at Moolangudi. Photo: THE HINDU

The sanctum of Sammandha Karrupar at Kulamangalam hamlet. The human figurines represent those killed in a riot that took place in the area 500 years ago. Photo: B. Velankanni Raj

Seated Karuppars, embellished with moustaches and ornaments at the Ayyanar temple at Urapatti village. Photo: B. Velankanni Raj

The potter P. Prabakaran, who is the priest at the Poi Sella Mei Ayyanar temple, with a terracotta cow he had made. Photo: B. Velankanni Raj

A 20-foot tall stucco sculpture of a caprisoned elephant in front of the Azhagar Ayyanar temple at Saluppai village in Ariyalur district. Photo: B. Velankanni Raj

The Urappatti Ayyanar temple has a remarkable accumulation of big terracotta horses with applique decorations, such as the one portraying Gajalakshmi. Photo: B. Velankanni Raj

C. Mariappan, the potter of Urappatti at his kiln. Photo: B. Velankanni Raj

Terracotta hoses and Saptamatrikas (seven mother goddesses) at Odugampatti village. Photo: B. Velankanni Raj

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