Museum Treasure: The 3 Saraswatis

The Padmanabhapuram Palace Complex, which is situated about 50 km from Thiruvananthapuram, has a heritage museum with exhibits that range from household articles to coins to sculptures and paintings to object d’ arts. The museum is located in the 400-year-old Thekee Kottaram (or Southern palace).

I visited the Padmanabhapuram Palace Complex in November 1998 and spent a very happy afternoon exploring it and pottering among the museum exhibits. This collection of 3 Saraswati figurines at the museum caught my eye.

About 12″ in height, these exquisitely carved wooden sculptures stood out for their craftsmanship. As I gazed into the calm and serene features of the figurines, I couldn’t help wondering as to why one rarely comes across Saraswati, the Hindu Goddess of learning, knowledge and wisdom. There are hardly any temples dedicated to Saraswati and even in art she is not a favourite subject for painters and sculptors alike.

Is it because we know that learning, knowledge and wisdom do not really come easy and even the Goddess cannot help if one is not willing to work hard for it? Or is it because material benefits are preferred over the intellect?

The Museum Treasure Series is all about artifacts found in museums with an interesting history and story attached to them. You can read more from this series here.