Trishtubh is the seventh horse of the South Asian solar deity Surya. Almost every culture has their own solar deity. Surya is probably the most popular in South Asia. Through India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh, histories connecting to the cult of Surya can be traced through sculpture, verse and art. He’s often depicted being driven by seven horses. However, the stories about his seven horses are little known.
Surya’s horses represent the seven colors that white light consists of. Their names mirror the seven meters of Sanskrit poetic rhythm: Gayatri, Brihati, Ushnih, Jagati, Pankti, Anushtubha and Trishtubh. These meters are modeled after the seven universal rhythms according to ancient musicians and poets. According to their works, these seven were the rhythms followed by everything in nature, whether it’s the earth revolving around the sun or the seasonal patterns in plants; the happy hum of a song or the rage of anger; the movement of a snake; a poem; the rhythmic plunge of a lion, or the cascading drop of a leaf. The horses of Surya symbolise these seven wavelengths that emanate from our life star. Trishtubh—the seventh horse of the sun represents red light which has the longest and the calmest wavelength.
✺ This red clay horse sculpture was made by artisans at the state-sponsored National Design Center in Moratuwa. Although the Center had promising beginnings at the start with the close involvement of the design faculty at the University of Moratuwa, the last decade with little funding and neglect from the government has had an effect on it. When we purchased this red clay horse sculpture almost seven years ago, the Center still held on to some interesting works that were new and unseen for the time—like this one. This red clay horse sculpture—which we thought to echo the seventh horse of the sun—is now out of production.
Seventh horse of the sun: red clay sculpture
14” H x 5” W at the widest.