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A LARGE BRONZE FIGURE OF KRISHNA KALIYADAMAN
A LARGE BRONZE FIGURE OF KRISHNA KALIYADAMAN
A LARGE BRONZE FIGURE OF KRISHNA KALIYADAMAN
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A LARGE BRONZE FIGURE OF KRISHNA KALIYADAMAN

SOUTH INDIA, NAYAKA PERIOD, 17TH-18TH CENTURY

Details
A LARGE BRONZE FIGURE OF KRISHNA KALIYADAMAN
SOUTH INDIA, NAYAKA PERIOD, 17TH-18TH CENTURY
36 ½ in. (92.7 cm.) high
Provenance
Private collection, Brazil, by 1985.

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Lot Essay

The present sculpture depicts Krishna dancing in celebration atop the hood of the subdued serpent king Kaliya. The multi-hooded Kaliya was polluting the waters of the Yamuna River and terrorizing Krishna’s homeland, Vraj. The young Krishna set out to defeat the naga, but ended up restricted in his coils. Expanding himself to escape, and landing on Kaliya’s hoods, Krishna began to crush the serpent king with great weight by the steps of his dance until Kaliya admitted defeat. Rather than killing his foe, Krishna agreed to let him flee, only after performing one final dance upon his hoods.
This weighty sculpture represents Krishna as a plump adolescent, mid-step in dance upon Kaliya. His left hand, extended outward, grasps the tail of the serpent, while his right hand is raised in abhayamudra, the gesture of reassurance, towards the spectators. Krishna wears an elaborately decorated dhoti with bands of embroidered floral and foliate motifs and an ornate, snake-like jewelry set. His hair is arranged in an unusually bulbous bun, tied off with a flowing sash. The details of Kaliya’s multi-hooded head and scaled body are meticulously executed and, impressively, include a diminutive representation of Kaliya in humanoid form, surrendering to Krishna.
Compare the present figure to a similarly cast example at the Victoria and Albert Museum (acc. no. IS.204-1959), published in P. Pal, 1997, Dancing to the Flute: Music and Dance in Indian Art, pp. 82-83, fig. 33. A well-known figure of Krishna dancing on Kaliya from the John D. Rockefeller III Collection at the Asia Society (acc. no. 1979.22), dated to the tenth-to-eleventh century may be referenced as an earlier prototype, and is widely considered to be one of the finest South Indian bronzes.

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