Following the fall of the Chola empire, later schools under the Hoysalas rejected the restraint and simplicity of their predecessors, adopting a more ornate approach to their sculptures. Both the nobility and affluent citizenry of the Hoysala kingdom were generous patrons of the arts, and many of their temples are among the most luxuriant ornate stone structures on the subcontinent. The sculpture of this period was defined by exuberant ornamentation, incorporating decorative motifs and designs to frame the representation of deities.
The veneration of serpents is still prevalent in India and works such as the present lot are found commonly among the sculpture of Karnataka, where the motif was particularly popular. While serpents were worshipped for protection from their deadly bite, they were also implored for prosperity and progeny. The reptiles here are not rendered in their naturalistic form but rather used to adorn the sides of the pillar, taking the form of the exaggerated ornamentation that was characteristic of this period.