VILLUPURAM: A 700-year-old statue was found at a lake bund in Chinnasalem on Thursday. Arakazhur Pon Vengatesan, president of the Salem History Research Centre, was doing a field research when he found the statue at the eastern side of the lake.
The statue depicts Kotravai, an ancient goddess. In early literature, including Tholkapiyam, she was mentioned in detail, says Vengatesan. He added that the goddess, who also goes by other names such as, Pazhaiyol, Kanamar, Selvi, Paikalapavai, and Kadukizhal, was written about in detail by Silapathaigaram and Ilangoadigal.
He further stated: “The statue found in the lake has a rural look. This would mean that a local leader might have gotten it made. During the 13th century, the area was under the rule of Magathai king, Ponparapina Vanakovarayan.
We suspect this statue belongs to that period, as it has a Pallava touch to it -- a lion and a deer have been depicted too.” Detailing the history, he continued, “Kings made the best soldier from his army perform the Navakandam (nine cuts) before the goddess at the beginning of a war.
“The soldier cuts off eight parts from his body, before finally chopping off his head as an offering to the goddess, to win the war.” During the Pallava period, Kotravai was largely worshipped and considered the goddess of desert land. “Usually, her statues are seen beside water bodies like river, canal and lake,” said Vengatesan.