An artifact with history and heritage dating back to thousands of years is Paavai Vilakku. Originally crafted by artisans in Greece, the country with the historic name of Yavana naadu, brought this damsel with the lamp to the Kingdom of Pandyas. It is an undeniable fact that the Pandya Kings had a strong business relationship with Greece and historians even record that the capital city of Madurai and Athens in Greece look structurally similar, which is indeed a surprising fact.
The cultural artifact brought from Greece is called in many names as ‘paavai vilakku’, ‘kai vilakku eandhiya kaarigai’, ‘damsel with the lamp’, ‘deepa lakshmi’, ‘vilakku lakshmi’ and lot more, meaning a Traditional South Indian Votive Oil Lamp with a lady holding the lamp with both hand.
The first set of such beautiful lamps were brought from Greece were made by Gold to be used in the palace of Pandya Kings. The original version of this lamp can still be found in the temples either as a metal based on or as stone carvings near the sanctum, which are well maintained and lit even today.
The ancient model of this paavai vilakku was crafted based on the appearance of royal ladies and their attire, ornaments and crown can be seen in the lamp if observed closely. The one we see here is synonymous to those used in the sect of Saivism where Goddess Meenakshi is adored and revered, especially across the erstwhile regions of Pandya Kingdom. This is differentiated from the rest with the parrot on Her right shoulder. The unique standing posture, ornaments, designs on the dresses and the bas relief are grogeously crafted using Lost Wax tradition and is indeed a wonderful piece of art to bring it to our home or office.