June 14, 2015



Sati as a practice was prevalent in most parts of medieval India and Goa certainly was not an exception. This brutal act of the wife killing herself by plunging into the funeral pyre of her late husband was widely popular and the women who adhered to this custom were celebrated as deities with their blessings being sought by the womenfolk in times of need. Much like the hero stones, Sati Stones commemorate the supreme 'sacrifice' of the brave ladies who chose to end their own lives after the death of their husbands, thereby upholding their chastity and loyalty towards their companion, at least that is what the general view of the society was.

The Sati cum Hero Stone - 14th century AD (left) and Sati Stone - 13th century (right)

Of the four Sati Stones in the Goa State Museum, the most impressive is the one that was found in Majorda in Salcette taluka which belongs to the 14 th century. This weathered exhibit made of Talc Chlorite Schist is in fact, a Sati cum hero stone and such combinations are not very common. Belonging to the Vijaynagara - Adil Shahi period, it depicts a man in 'Anjalimudra' (gesture of adoration) in the middle with one woman, probably his wife in 'Abhayamudra' (gesture of reassurance) on his left and an attendant to his right. In the next section, the hero is seen committing self-sacrifice as the musicians perform whereas the topmost panel depicts a couple worshiping a Shiv Linga. A 'Shikara' crowns the stone slab and on either side of it, one can see carvings of the Sun and the crescent Moon.

Then there is another one made of Meta Basalt stone which has a rather peculiar shape. It consists of a pillar out of which emerges the right hand of a woman, decorated with bangles. Between the hand and the pillar is a couple whereas a motif of lotus is carved on to the pillar which is the symbol of purity. This exhibit belongs to the thirteenth century and was found at Rivona in Sanguem taluka.

A more elaborately carved Sati stone, similar to the one mentioned above which belongs to the sixteenth century is also displayed. Unlike the above mentioned exhibit, this depicts a couple below the hand. Then there is another sculpture which captures a lady with long flowing air, all set to jump into the fire and commit Sati.

More from the series: GOA STATE MUSEUM

(1) An Introduction (Link)

(2) The Hero Stones (Link)

(3) The Sati Stones (Link)

(4) The Gajalaxmi Stones (Link)

(5) The Cult of Mahishasura Mardini (Link)

Reference: Catalogue of the Remarkable Sculptures in the Goa State Museum