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    Sale 12255

    The Lahiri Collection: Indian and Himalayan Art, Ancient and Modern

    15 March 2016, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 42

    A RARE AND IMPORTANT BRONZE FIGURE, POSSIBLY OF CHAKRAPURUSHA

    INDIA, LATE KUSHAN OR EARLY GUPTA PERIOD, 3RD/4TH CENTURY

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    A RARE AND IMPORTANT BRONZE FIGURE, POSSIBLY OF CHAKRAPURUSHA
    INDIA, LATE KUSHAN OR EARLY GUPTA PERIOD, 3rd/4th CENTURY
    Standing slightly bent with his feet apart, his right hand raised with his ring-finger touching the thumb, the left holding an unidentifiable attribute, clad in a loincloth drawn tightly to the back where draped over a cord serving as belt, his face displaying a severe expression with bulging eyes below arched eyebrows, broad nose, half-open mouth, elongated earlobes with pierced circular ear-ornaments, curling hair secured with a ribbon and a section of a support attached to the backside of his head
    6 ¼ in. (15.7 cm.) high


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    The gana, or dwarf figure, is one of the most ancient and most prevalent figures in Indian art. In the Kushan and Gupta periods, dwarf figures (called Yakshas) were closely associated with nature and were paired with Yakshis, their female counterparts who were spirits inhabiting trees. In the medieval period, flying dwarfs (called Gandharvas) were depicted at the upper level of the walls, as if supporting the roofs of towering temples. Throughout time dwarfs have served as the supports to primary deities of the Buddhist and Hindu pantheon, either as attendant figures or as personifications of attributes. This lively and animated pot-bellied dwarf resembles representations of Chakrapurusha, the personified form of Vishnu’s discus or wheel attribute. The small curved segment at the backside of his head could be the lower portion of the discus. As his head is not tilted up or looking in the direction of the main figure Vishnu, as in other examples, however, he may also be the dwarf attendant to another deity, such as Shiva or a goddess. His naturalistic appearance with overhanging belly, rather stocky legs, pouting lips and large pierced circular earrings suggests a late Kushan or early Gupta date, and makes the object a pleasing and important artistic accomplishment of its own accord.

    Provenance

    Acquired in Thailand in 1998