Unusual Polychrome Wooden Image of Sri Lakshmi with Madonna Elements
This image of Lakshmi is of carved wood with polychrome. The body and stand of the image are carved from a single piece of wood, with attached arms and an attached halo. We know that this is an image of Lakshmi because the base has written in sanskrit ‘Sri Lakshmi’. The prefix ‘Sri’ is used to denote reverence and divine qualities. Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth. Most Indian Hindu households traditionally had and indeed have an image of Lakshmi.
The halo is highly unusual. Possibly, it is a device borrowed from Christian art in the manner that saints were depicted with halos to denote their saintliness and divinity. The heart motif on the image’s chest might also be a stylistic reference to the use of the heart in Christian art to denote Jesus. In this way it is possible that this image either is a blending of Mary with Lakshmi or simply borrows from Christian iconography.
The blending of Hindu elements with those of other religions does occur. Even today, Hindu household shrines might include an image of Jesus or Mary or both, not as Christian images in themselves but as manifestations of God.
Inventory no.: 1014