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Female Torso    


Granite
12th Century

Chola Dynasty
Tamil Nadu

Height: 42.5 in (107.9 cm)

The powerful Chola Dynasty ruled Tamil Nadu from the 10th to the 13th century A.D. The Empire was magnificent and spread from the islands of the Maldives up to the banks of the Godavari in Andhra Pradesh. Apart from being great conquerors, the Chola kings were also dedicated patrons of the arts and had outstanding aesthetic sensibilities. Under their rule, some of the most exceptional sculptures in metal and stone were created. Raja Raja Chola and his son Rajendra Chola also built spectacular temples. The proportion, posture, expression and rhythm of sculptures of this period still stand unrivalled. Today collectors the world over realize the rarity of sculptures of this period, and are always looking to acquire the few available, surviving examples which are reminiscent of this great ancient civilization.

This beautiful lady's torso is a fine example of the skilled craftsmanship that prevailed in the Chola kingdom. The figure is four handed and stands in the samabhanga posture. In this pose, both legs are held straight. The fact that the sculpture has stood witness to several centuries is visible in the condition of the attributes; the head and hands are also lost. However, the beauty that remains is beyond compare. The manner in which the body shape is contoured is spectacular. A large choker necklace decorates the neck. The breasts are small and firm and the waist is slim. The hips are shown full and rounded. A yajnopavita or sacred thread flows down artistically over the body. The waist ornament has great detailing and the lower garment is a thin fabric that clings to the body, taking the shape of the knee, with its creases flowing out symmetrically. The anklets and toe rings are also carved in great detail. One cannot fail to imagine what kind of a beauty this figure would have been in full.

The finest of torsos like this one have long excited the sensibilities of passionate collectors with great taste. The full three-dimensional body and fine detailing point out that this piece must have been the work of one of the master carvers of the Chola regime. Going by South Indian iconography, after studying the posture and hands we can conclude that the subject would most likely have been Durga, one of the most important Devis or goddesses in Hindu mythology.




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