Shitala's statuettes

These ceramic statues from India can be seen at the Edward Jenner's house and Museum in Berkeley, Gloucestershire. The museum's labels state that the ceramic statues are icons made and used in India. Icons are statues that are often worshipped as part of rituals all over the world; these particular icons were worshipped to rid villages in India of smallpox in the 19th Century.
Made by local potters in the central districts of Uttar, Pradesh and Lucknow, statues like these although low in monetary value are rare as most were simply destroyed after smallpox left the village concerned. Now, since the declaration that the smallpox virus is eradicated statues and icons such as these are even rarer.
Shitala Mata is often pictured riding on a donkey, but the villagers who used these elephant statues hoped that giving her a higher status of transport, would persuade her to leave more quickly, taking smallpox with her.


Photos by Luca Borghi ti.supmacinu|ihgrob.l#| (July 2019), courtesy of the Dr Jenner's House, Museum and Garden. Layout by Jessica Casaccia ti.supmacinu|aiccasac.j#| (June 2021). Text from museum's labels.

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