Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya

(Formerly Prince of Wales Museum of Western India)



Money God Hanuman
India, Karnataka, Gadag,
c.16th century
Bronze, 32.5 cm. ( 13.3 x 11x 38.5 cms)
Object of the month - April 2015

Hanuman is the name for both a species of money as well as the devout simian follower of Rama, the divine hero of the epic Ramayana and an avatar of Vishnu. Apart from being represented with Rama, Hanuman is the focus of widespread worship by Hindus as a remover of difficulties (sankatamochana). This image once certainly belonged to a group that must have included Rama, Lakshmana, one of Rama’s siblings, and his spouse Sita. From Hanuman’s posture and attitude of devotion it can be surmised he would have faced his master.

But for his simian head and the tail that rises to the back of the head, he is essentially a human figure. His hands are joined against his chest in the classic Indian gesture of greeting and devotion. He wears a dhoti with a broad belt and several hanging ornaments over his garment that create a pleasing rhythmic pattern. By contrast the torso is more sparsely adorned though there is a suggestion of a short jacket around the chest. Only a few of the ornaments and the dhoti are represented on the back which is otherwise well modelled.