Yakshi: Iconic nude woman statue in Kerala to get facelift

The imposing nude woman statue of Yakshi, located at the Malampuzha Gardens of Palakkad, was sculpted by Kanayi Kunhiraman in the year 1969

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Yakshi statue of nude woman

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala’s iconic Yakshi statue, the gigantic nude woman sculpture which had shocked the conventional mindset of society, is all set to get a facelift as it completes 50 years of construction.

The imposing structure, located at the sprawling Malampuzha gardens of Palakkad district, was sculpted by eminent artist Kanayi Kunhiraman in the year 1969.

More about Yakshi

Facing the mountain ranges of the Western Ghats, the statue of Yakshi is designed as a voluptuous naked woman in sitting posture with her hair unlocked and legs stretching forward with eyes half-opened.

One of the most famous and celebrated sculptures of the state, Yakshi (demigoddess in local parlance) is considered as an artistic wonder by art buffs for its rare skillfulness, creativity and bold expression.

The facelift

At the age of 81, Kunhiraman is now busy renovating his revolutionary work of art to restore it to its old sensuous charm.

The sculptor said he wants to give the 30-ft structure bronze plating to help it withstand the test of time and keep it for the posterity without any damage.

“Yakshi is the first such bold attempt to bring the sculptures of women out of the walls of temples. So far, women sculptures could be seen on the temple walls only,” Kunhiraman said.

The award-winning artist, who likes to call himself as a proponent of ‘anti-museum’ art movement, said he was against depicting art works in museums.

“Art is for people… it is not to be confined within the four walls of museums. Nature should be the canvas and space for an artist. He should construct his work in nature,” Kunhiraman, also the former chariman of the state-run Lalit Kala Academy, said.

When the sculptor started the work of Yakshi during late 1960s, he had to face stiff opposition and protest from conservatives who condemned that the statue as obscene and had said it was against the state’s morality and culture.

Unfazed by the protests and controversies, Kunhiraman had carved the concrete sculpture in the scenic garden, which has been attracting huge inflow of visitors and art aficionados for the last many decades.

“I had to face severe protest from conventional people against erecting the statue of a nude woman in a public space. But, I asked them what is wrong in placing a woman’s statue in open nature if it can be placed in temples? Nature is my temple,” Kunhiraman said.

The ace sculptor also said he had never felt any nudity in the statue and obscenity is in the minds of onlookers.

“The post-modern movement advocates that any work of art should be the ones to influence and correct this society. I did Yakshi to give a shock to the conventional mindset and remove the very concept of obscenity from their heart,” the artist explained.

“But, I am so happy to see that after those initial objections, people have started to love Yakshi in course of time and accept it as a landmark one,” Kunhiraman said.

The octogenarian artist now wants to cover the huge Yakshi structure with bronze to retain it for posterity.

“If there is bronze plating, it will last for a long period without any damage. I have conveyed my wish to the government and awaiting a favourable reply from them,” the artist said adding the ongoing renovation would be completed in a week.