Hey guys, I am at the Darasuram Temple in India and let’s take a look at this sculpture of a woman with 8 legs. This is a flexible acrobat with one head, two hands and four bodies. Now if I cover the rest of the legs except the top two legs, she is balancing her body weight on the floor with 2 hands. And both her legs are above the head. This is the first position. Now if I cover the other parts, except these 2 legs, this is a different position. Now, both these legs are also up in the air, but while her head is facing us, the body is twisted to the side. If you cover the parts except the 2 legs on this side, you can see the other position. Now, look carefully and you’ll see 2 outstretched legs on the floor. If you cover everything else, you can see the woman doing a split. Notice the cute, naughty smile on her face, showing how proud she must have been of her body. This is not all, because you can see many other positions, if you cover legs in various combinations. For example, like this. Or like this. In modern day talent shows, you can see people performing these types of flexible acrobatics and getting enormous attention. This sculpture is at least 850 years old which proves that these types of performances existed in India a long time ago. If you look at the background, you can see women dancing on one side and a man on the other. This was probably some kind of a stage performance where the woman is showing her acrobatic skills. The sculptor has masterfully carved all these positions to match just one face.
There are other sculptures in this temple with much more complexity. Here, a woman is sitting on top of the acrobat, apparently juggling and creating more complex positions. On my website phenomenalplace.com, I’ve posted more sculptures of these flexible acrobats. It is a shame that corrosion has taken over and you can’t see the details on many of these valuable sculptures.
Here is my question to you: Isn’t is obvious that she does not actually have 8 legs and the sculptor carved them to show different positions? I ask this, because, this answers the question to why Indian Gods have so many hands. Take a look at any Indian God and you’ll see more than 2 hands. The sculptors in ancient times must have tried to show different positions and they carved multiple arms to show all the weapons and things they used. This is the only way to give a lot of information in a sculpture which cannot show moving images as opposed to a modern day video.
However as time went on, this logical way of thinking somehow disappeared. Nowadays, they use it to show power and create shock appeal. The more number of hands, the better it gets. And I have seen sculptures where you can’t even count the number of arms. And these arms are just arms, most of them are empty. This is Avalokitesvara by the way, a very popular god in many Asian countries. So, if you’ve ever wondered why Indian Gods have so many hands, I hope this sculpture answered the question.