Fertility figures found during a dig for laying sewage pipes on the road

Two fertility sculptures on granite slabs have been unearthed while digging a road for laying sewage pipes. The surprise find was made near the Ganikere lake at Sagara on December 29, 2019. The stones have graphic depiction of a male and a female figure exhibiting their genitalia. The two stones have now been shifted to the Shivappa Nayaka Palace Museum.

R Shejeshwara Nayak, the assistant director of the Archaelogical Museum, said that he received information from the local Tahsildar and others about the find. The very next day, on December 30, the sculptures were shifted to the museum. Each of them is two metres tall and around 80 cm wide.

Explaining their design, Nayak said, “The male figure is shown standing on a pedestal and he is holding his member in both hands. He is wearing ‘kadaga’ on both wrists and ankles. He also has bands on either arms called the ‘tolabandi,’ another ornament around his waist, a necklace and an eloborate earpiece. He has a decorated and hair tied in a bun. Two flowers are carved on either side.”

The second sculpture of the woman is also shown standing on a pedestal. She exposes her vagina with both hands. She too wears ornaments on the wrists, ankles, waist and arms. She has a necklace and earrings and a well decorated hairstyle. On either side, are images of leaves.

Nayak said that such images are not found in temples but erected on the edge of lakes. “They symbolise fertility and the images of the male and female are always found side by side. Farmers pray to them at times of sowing, harvesting and other specific times,” he said.

These kind of fertility sculptures are not common though. Such sculptures have so far been found only in two districts of Karnataka; Shivamogga and Haveri. “We know of only five other such sculptures in Ulavi lake and Chittur lakes in Soraba, Ittigehalli lake in Shikaripura, Gowdanahalli lake in Shivamogga taluk and Salanga lake in Sagara. All of them belong to the period of Keladi dynasty which ruled these parts of the State in the 16th and 17th Centuries,” Nayaka said.

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