|1010 AD old Thanjavur big temple, a foreigner with a European hatYouTube.|
|Big temple Thanjavur, Europen head. www.team-bhp.com/|
|Thanjavur big temple, TN tntemple.org|
There are different versions as to the origin of this foreign figure on the Vimana's north side. From the way the image is portrayed, it is obvious, the man is not positively a tall figure, may be of medium height vaguely resembling Chinese. His moustache, eye brows and lack of thin Chinese beard appear to be non-Chinese features. So, it is difficult to figure out his ethnicity. The foreigner's image is in the middle of the Vimana along with three other human figures. You can view it very well by standing close to the Arthanareeswara shrine on the north prakara. The figure with a Bowler's hat attracts our attention.
|European head marked out. Big temple.thewanderingsoul.in|
Was this European figure carved during the Martha rule especially Raja Serfoji who is believed to have renovated the big temple during hie reign? Fr. Schwartz was the one who helped Serfoji get back his kingdom from his uncle with help from the British. This figure does not look like Fr. Schwartz, an Angelo Saxon Christian missionary settled in Thanjavur at that time. Did Raja Serfoji add Fr. Schwartz' figure on the north tower to honor him? if it were so, the European figure would have worn Christian father's regalia! Again, the hat is against this theory.
|Thanjavur city mapgeocities.ws|
Yet another version is the European figure is that of the great Venetian traveller Marco Polo who passed through South India on his way back home 1288-93 AD. Later rulers might have added the image of Marco Polo. The Bowler's hat on the European suggests that it was not that of any Englishman, for Englishman used to wear different types of hat, not the one portrayed in the stone image.
Based on the facial features in the image portrayed on the Vimana at the Big temple, besides the style of hat worn on the head, there is every possibility that the European was a Dane carved on the tower / gopuram during the reign of the Nayaks of Thanjavur. This is the closest possible assumption one can make.