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Creator Nationality: Asian; Indian Sub-Continent; Indian
Creator Dates/Places: South Indian
Creator Active Place: South Indian
Creator Name-CRT: South Indian
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1000
Creation End Date: 1099
Creation Date: Chola period, 12th century
Creation Place: India, Tamil Nadu
Object Type: Sculpture
Classification Term: Bronzes
Materials and Techniques: Copper alloy
Dimensions: H. 15 5/8 in. (39.7 cm)
AMICA Contributor: Asia Society
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1979.025
Credit Line: Asia Society: The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
Context: The bronze sculptures of Hindu gods and Buddhist deities cast during the Chola period (880-1279) are among the most renowned sculptures in world art. The Cholas came to power in the late 9th century, and until the late 13th century ruled a large part of south India from their homeland near Thanjavur on the southeastern coast, maintaining diplomatic ties with countries as distant as China and Indonesia. Chola rulers were active patrons of the arts, and during their rule, literature, dance, and the other performing arts flourished. They also constructed enormous temple complexes decorated with stone representations of the Hindu gods.
Admired for the sensuous depiction of the figure and the detailed treatment of their clothing and jewelry, Chola-period bronzes were created using the lost wax technique, commonly known by its French name, cire perdue. Because each sculpture made in this fashion requires a separate wax model, each is unique, but because they are religious icons, Chola-period sculptures also conform to well-established iconographic conventions.
The lack of plasticity in the treatment of the body help to date this sculpture of the god Brahma to the 12th century. Despite his theological importance in Hinduism as a symbol of the generation of the cosmos, Brahma is not often represented in the visual arts. He is identifiable by his four faces and the attributes he holds in his hands: a lotus stem in the lower right, a bundle of grass in the upper right, a vase in the upper left, and a book in the lower right. The incised eyebrows and wide, staring eyes found on Brahma's four faces are later recuttings. The eyes are considered one of the most important elements of a Hindu sculpture, serving as a link between the god and the devotee who views it. The chiseling of the eyes, or 'eye-opening' ceremony is one of the last stages in the consecration of an image in a temple and is accompanied by elaborate ceremonies and rituals, including the bathing of images and lustrations of water, milk-rice, molasses, and other liquids. Because the eyes of the sculptures receive the full impact of these poured offerings, they often become abraded over time, and so those on older images were sometimes recarved to preserve the potency and appearance of the deity. The four faces on this sculpture of Brahma show different degrees of recutting. Stylistically, the eyes of this figure compare with those found on works from the 14th through 17th centuries, dating the recarvings to that period.
Related Document Description: Asia Society. Handbook of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. New York: Asia Society, , p. 16.
Related Document Description: Barrett, Douglas. Early Cola Bronzes. Bombay: Bhulabhai Memorial Institute, 1965, p. 23.
Related Document Description: Lee, Sherman E. Asian Art: Selections from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd. New York: Asia Society, 1970, pp. 26, 32.
Related Document Description: Tarapor, Mahrukh. 'A Note on Chola Bronzes.' Apollo (November 1983), p. 410.
Related Document Description: Treasures of Asian Art: Selections from the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection, The Asia Society, New York. Hong Kong and Singapore: Hong Kong Museum of Art and National Museum Singapore, 1993, pp. 54-55.
Related Document Description: Treasures of Asian Art: Selections from the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection, The Asia Society, New York. Tokyo: Idemitsu Museum of Arts, 1992, pp. 44, 120-21.
AMICA ID: ASIA.1979.025
AMICA Library Year: 1999
Media Metadata Rights:
Copyright, Asia Society
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