somersethouse, v1

Day 4: Nandi Bull

We started this morning with what has now become our cleansing ritual, where we remove the previous day’s display, stick that on the wall, and then prepare our new day’s actual tabula rasa.

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Our basic idea is to prepare a new display each day based on one or more of the objects. Today is our Nandi Bull.

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Here’s his label:

Figure of Nandi
India, Deccan, 1500s
Carved Granite

The humped bull Nandi (which means ‘rejoicing’) appears at the entrance of every temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, facing the god with a constant serene gaze. Symbolising strength, virility and fertility, as well as religious and moral duties, Nandi is widely recognised both as Shiva’s gatekeeper and as the animal on which he rides. Seated with his legs tucked underneath his body, this figure portrays a representation of Nandi from the southern Indian tradition.
Asia 1923.0306.1

And here’s what he looks like in the museum:

BM_nandi-bull

We were struck that the austere granite figure of the Nandi Bull in situ was so inert and static compared to the energy and colour and life that surrounds the bulls installed at shrines to Siva, in real life. They’re celebrated, covered in garlands, whispered to, and surrounded by people, fire and music. The museum experience shows us nothing of that. It didn’t take us long to pick an idea where the display transforms from something bland into something with energy, color and movement.

Here’s the work in progress. We’ll post the finished thing when it’s, well, finished.

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