A COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF PARVATI TAMIL NADU, CHOLA PERIOD, CIRCA 12TH CENTURY
Lot 3074
A COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF PARVATI
TAMIL NADU, CHOLA PERIOD, CIRCA 12TH CENTURY
US$ 500,000 - 700,000
HK$ 3,900,000 - 5,500,000

Lot Details
A COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF PARVATI TAMIL NADU, CHOLA PERIOD, CIRCA 12TH CENTURY A COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF PARVATI TAMIL NADU, CHOLA PERIOD, CIRCA 12TH CENTURY A COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF PARVATI TAMIL NADU, CHOLA PERIOD, CIRCA 12TH CENTURY
A COPPER ALLOY FIGURE OF PARVATI
TAMIL NADU, CHOLA PERIOD, CIRCA 12TH CENTURY
24 3/4 in. (61.2 cm) high

Footnotes

  • "Like a painting unfolding under the brush
    or a lotus spreading open at the sun's touch,
    every part of her [Parvati's] body had its perfect
    symmetry in the fresh fullness of her youth.

    When she walked, with the glitter of her lightly
    arching great toes and nails, at the steps
    of her feet, the earth seemed to pour up red,
    a wealth of moving lotuses on land.

    She could have learned her sloping walk,
    with the movements all a play of grace,
    from the imperial geese, who themselves were
    eager to learn the rhythms of her anklets.

    She had thighs so lovely, rounded and even,
    and long but not too long, that it seemed her maker
    must have summoned up a great effort of creation
    to match the glow of them in the rest of her limbs.

    Since the trunk of an elephant has too harsh a skin
    and the plantain stalk is always cold,
    those similes the world offers to express flowing,
    ample curves were useless for those thighs.

    And the splendor of her hips can be measured
    by how Śiva, at last, would lift them
    to his lap and there, faultless; she would rest
    where even the desires of other women cannot go."


    (Kumarasambhavam by Kalidasa, verses 31-7, translated by Hank Heifetz, 2014)

    It is as if this large and exceptional Chola bronze has brought Kalidasa's 4th-5th century poetic vision of Parvati to life. Her legs are at once strong, healthy, soft, and limber, clad in a patterned sheer garment. She steps forward with a contrapposto that exaggerates her hips, giving rise to a slender waist and full breasts. Her rear is pert and firm. She is a divine mate, perfectly exemplifying the breathtaking union of sensuality and divinity for which Chola sculpture is so revered, "intended as both exceptional artistic creations and as a means through which to transmit the essence of the divine." (Natalya Stein in Sotheby's, New York, 15 March 2017, lot 255). The elegant fingers of her upraised right hand are rubbed smooth from her ritual life and received ablutions.

    Worshipped as living entities during the ritual cycle, processional bronzes, such as the present lot, are paraded during numerous festivals in South India. The holes in the front of the base allowed for the bronze to be stabilized on a wooden platform and the projecting mortises at the back would have supported the tenons of a separately cast aureole.

    Following the schema of dating according to ornament, devised by Sivaramamurti, this remarkable sculpture exhibits the hallmarks of the mature Chola style of the 12th and 13th centuries. Note her ensemble of layered semi-circular kanthi necklaces, stacked one atop one another, with the central band having "the shape of several tiny mangoes strung together" - a fashion emerging by the 11th century (South Indian Bronzes, New Delhi, 1963, p.31).

    Further evidence of its dating is seen in the sirischakra projecting at the back of the head, above an abundance of jatas (hair curls) in a close semi-circular form that fan out across her neck. The tassels over the arches of her ears and fully formed makara earrings also indicate the mature Chola style. Following the conventions of the period, the artist has conveyed great fluidity in the arrangement of her lower garment. The karisutra and mekhala clasp sits within the inversion from the stomach to the pubis and the lower sash plunging in a deep 'U' form between her legs, supporting beaded swags that hug her upper thighs and hips.

    Compare with other examples of the goddess formerly in the Belmont Collection sold at Sotheby's, London, 7 December 1971, lot 67 and also one in the Rietberg Museum, Indian Sculptures in the von der Heydt Collection, Zurich, 1964, pl.45a,b. Also see a further closely related examples in Codrington (et al.), The Art of India & Pakistan, London, 1950, pl.57, no.322.

    Provenance
    Sotheby's, London, 11 December 1973, lot 162
    Oriental Antiquities Ltd, London
    Sotheby's, London, 23 November 1987, lot 93
    Private Collection, Los Angeles
Activities
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