Identification of Hindu Icons

Investigator(s): Dr. Pierre Grard, Dr. N. Murugesan
Start date: 2014
Axis 4. of the Indology Department /
A Pioneering CD-ROM project on the identification of Hindu Gods and Goddesses is going on to identify the Hindu icons by using the Biotik software of the Ecology department in association with Dr.J.P. Pascal, the former Director and Dr.Pierre Grard, the present Director.
The identification of Hindu Icons in India is a major handicap. In India, the IFP’s contribution in various networks and processes to establish a national strategy for the Icons identification allows us to confirm a strong demand in this domain for: training, diffusion of information, as well as new tools for capacity-building in Iconography. The objective of this project is to provide a computer-aided identification software, devoted to Hindu Icons of India; especially in South India to be used by non-specialists via a user-friendly graphical interface and to serve for training and self-training in capacity-building, regarding Hindu Iconography.
Materials and Methods:

This software is derived from the IDAO software developed by CIRAD (since 1996), which enables the development of applications specific to certain categories of plants or organisms. All applications are founded, nonetheless, on the same user-friendly principle of identification, with a graphic interface that enables the user to short-list some species and to access their description sheets. Thus, identification is possible in spite of the absence of information on some species’ attributes. The identification process is done entirely graphically by constituting an “Identikit picture”. After identification and short-listing, the user can access a descriptive file of the species, where botanical terms are defined in a hypertext. The same soft ware is adopted to identify the Hindu Icons.

The application took into account:

  • The existing data available on the defined icons and their data formats.
  • The compilation of 235 icon’s information found in the four southern states of south India.

A comprehensive list of icons has been drawn up for the region, we analyze and define the characters of the Gods and Goddesses. Based on this work, the conceptualization of the core of the identification system, “the identikit”, will be undertaken. The identikit comprises all the characters and all the state of these characters. This is quintessential to the software, because this helps the end-user to cross-match any possible character to any other, making all kinds of combinations possible. Among the total 430 characters in the collection 235 have been selected for the study. For the selected Gods and Goddesses the attributes, poses, weapons and possessions of 10 are completed. The identikit uses a graphic interface, developed with vectorized drawings, based on a system that reconstitutes the icons, using these drawings.

External team members:

– Dr.J.P.Pascal, Botanist, Ecologist, Former Director, French Institute of Pondicherry

Main outputs:
– Publication of a CD-ROM


– Duration: 2 years
– Funding Agency(ies): French Institute of Pondicherry