Size: 17.6 x 13.6 in (44.7 x 34.5 cm)
Date of printing: 1880s
The three headed monk is considered to be an avatar of the three Hindu gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. He was especially venerated in Maharashtra and known for his skills as a yoga guru. He is dressed as a simple monk holding symbolic attributes associated with Shiva
(trident, damaru drum, begging bowl), Vishnu (conch and chakra discus) and Brahma (water pot). He is always surrounded by a cow and four dogs, symbolizing the four Vedas.
One of the most important texts of Hinduism, namely Avadhuta Gita has been attributed to Dattatreya. He is also said to have inspired many monastic movements in Shaivism, Vaishnavism and Shaktism. He is mentioned frequently by the poet Tukaram and revered for his way of life. He is also described in the Mahabharata as a sage possessing extraordinary insight and knowledge.
The modern iconography of Dattatreya was created by the Chitrashala Press and later followed by the Ravi Varma Press. The symbol on the forehead determines the press to which the print is attributed. If the forehead had the sign of Shiva then it was from the
Chitrashala Press and if Vishnu then Ravi Varma Press.