India | Bronze

Early Kashmir Padmapani
Swat Valley
c. 8th century
Bronze

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Early Kashmir Padmapani
Swat Valley
c. 8th century
Bronze
8 1/2 in. (20.8 cm.)

Provenance:
Sotheby’s London, 9 May 1977, lot 36.
London Art Market.
Acquired by the present owner from the above, 1992.
Exhibited:
Gilgamesh Group Inaugural Exhibition, Setsu Gatodo Gallery, Nihonbashi, Japan, November 29th – December 1st, 1979. Cat. 48.
Published:
Gilgamesh Group Inaugural Exhibition, Setsu Gatodo Gallery, Nihonbashi, 1979, cat. 48. U. Von Schroeder, Inda-Tibetan Bronzes, Hong Kong, 1981, pp.90- 91, fig. 9H.
HAR item no. 24324

Like the lotus, whose pristine blossom rises out of the mud, Padmapani has transcended the pain and impurities of the material world, reaching enlightenment in body, speech, and mind. The bodhisattva forgoes entering nirvana until he has released all sentient beings from the cycle of death and rebirth. This rare eighth-century bronze figure of Padmapani, an emanation o Avalokiteshvara, displays the convergence of post-Gandharan and early Gupta aesthetic ideals that took place in the Kashmiri/ Swat Valley region during the sixth to the eighth centuries. The Swat Valley is located along the upper stream of the Indus River in what was the ancient region of Gandhara. Serving as a link between India and Central Asia, the valley witnessed a constant migration of Buddhist pilgrims, becoming an important melting pot of cultures and an epicenter of Buddhist art production.

The present figure displays a muscular body and a dhoti with long looping pleats – typical traits of the Hellenistic features of Gandhara – while the flesh contours, clipped waist and large almond-shaped eyes suggest influences from the Gupta sculptural school.

Compare the trifoliate crown, beaded necklace, facial features and corporal modeling with a Swat Valley bronze figure of Shakyamuni in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1985.77). The present example is testament to a unique historical moment from which only a small number of bronzes survive. Cover and illustration, U. Von Schroeder, Inda-Tibetan Bronzes, Hong Kong, 1981, p.91, fig. 9H.

Ganesh
India, Himachal 
c. 9th century
Bronze

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Ganesh
India, Himachal 
c. 9th century
Bronze

HAR Item No. 8023

A serene figure of Padmapani
Northeast India, Pala Period
c. 12th century
Bronze with silver and copper inlay

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A serene figure of Padmapani
Northeast India, Pala Period
c. 12th century 
Bronze with silver and copper inlay
3 7/8 in. (10 cm.)

Provenance:
From a private European collection

Seated in rajalilasana on a lotus base with his right arm elegantly resting on his raised right leg while the left holds a lotus stem, clad in a dhoti richly inlaid with silver and copper medallions, adorned with silver- and copper-inlaid jewelry and a sacred thread, his face with a benevolent expression with silver-inlaid eyes and urna, his hair styled in a high chignon topped by a knop, centered with a stupa and secured by a tiara

The Pala dynasty, which flourished from the 8th-12th century in northeastern India, was one of the last strongholds of Buddhism, as the country became increasingly Hindu by the 11th century. As Buddhism continued to flourish under the Pala rulers, there was a surge in travel among Buddhist practitioners and laypeople to sacred sites associated with Buddha Shakyamuni. With this came the expanded propagation of Buddhist texts and religious icons, which were easily transported by pilgrims. Bronze sculpture which were especially portable, played a crucial role in the propagation of Buddhist iconography throughout the region. As a result, Pala bronze work achieved an exceptional level of sophistication and to this day, is revered as one of the golden eras of the Indian sculptural tradition.

This sublime figure of Padmapani, the Bodhisattva of compassion, is emblematic of the artistic mastery of Pala period bronze work. Rendered with jewel-like sensitivity, the god sits languidly atop a throne of lush lotus petals. The body is modeled with exceptional naturalism and sensuality. From the fleshy toes, to the slightly bulging belly and exaggerated curve of the torso and shoulders, every detail is rendered with a softness rarely captured in metal. The abundance of shimmering silver and copper inlay suggest this sculpture was an object of particularly special veneration. Compare with another Pala period bronze image of Maitreya in the British Museum, London (U. von Schroeder, Indo-Tibetan Bronzes, 1981, p.282-283. cat no.69D).

Vishnu Yogasana
Northern India, Himachal Pradesh
c. 10th – 11th century 
Brass

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Vishnu Yogasana
Northern India, Himachal Pradesh
c. 10th – 11th century
Brass
18 1/2 in. (47 cm.)

Provenance: From the collection of Simon Digby, Oriental Scholar
Norton Simon Museum Comparable

HAR Item No. 8043

This notably large and rare piece from Himachal features Vishnu seated on a lotus, holding a massive conch and wheel in his two upper hands, his lower hands in Dhyanamudra, the elaborate torana with Shiva and Brahma.

A heavily researched piece of “Vishnu and Lakshmi with Avatars” from the same group as the above piece is currently on view in the Norton Simon Museum of Art. Joseph Dye suggested that Rajasthan is the source of the Simon piece and dated it to the 10th century. Martin Lerner gave the Simon piece “a circa 1000 dating and considers it a paradigm of Pratihara period sculpture in metal, showing connections in Rajasthan but created in Himachal Pradesh.” Karl Khandalavala “prefers an early tenth century date (for the Simon Piece) and believes it to be from the upper valleys of the river Jamuna or Sutlej”. Lerner believes the crown of the Simon piece (which is similar to the above piece as well) to be related to sculptures of Himachal Pradesh rather than the plains.

“Between the 10th and 12th centuries, patrons in Himachal Pradesh seem to have made a conscious attempt to adopt architectural and sculptural styles from the plains. This impressive tableau, however, reveals unusual features, adornments, and proportions. If this piece is from Himachal Pradesh, then clearly we are witnessing the handiwork of a sculptor with a strong sense of individuality.” -Dr. Pratapaditya Pal in regards to the Norton Simon Vishnu and Lakshmi with Avatars, P.44,  Vol. 2, Art from the Himalayas and China.

Uma-Maheshvara
Northern India, Kashmir or Himachal Pradesh
c. 11th century
Copper alloy with Silver inlay

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Uma-Maheshvara
Northern India, Kashmir or Himachal Pradesh
c. 11th century
Copper alloy with Silver inlay
6 3/8 in. (16.2 cm.)

Provenance: 
Sotheby’s NY, March 24, 2011, Lot 18
Harry & Yvonne Lenart Collection, Los Angeles, 1960’s – 2011
Exhibited: 
“The Divine Presence: Asian Sculptures from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Lenart”, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, August 15 – October 15, 1978
Published:
Pal, Pratapaditya, The Divine Presence, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1978, p. 26, pl. 13

In this rare form of Uma-Maheshvara, Shiva is seated in a yogic posture on a lotus, his principal hands holding a waterpot with leaves. His upper right hand grasps a rosary and the left supports Uma, who is gracefully seated on his thigh. Uma too holds a waterpot with her right hand, and in her left a lotus. This rare image is Kumbhesvara, lord of the waterpot. This rare bronze is one of the few known images of Uma-Maheshvara from either Kashmir or Himachal Pradesh. According to Shaiva Siddhanta philosophy, Shiva’s infinite power remains concealed until he is in the company of his consort Uma (Sa Uma). In her presence he reveals his benevolence and through her his grace is comprehended. Images of Shiva together with Uma are known as Umasahitamurti and with the addition of their infant Skanda the image becomes Somaskandamurti. Since Shiva was believed to confer his blessings upon devotees most readily in this form it was imperative for every temple to have a Somaskandamurti and this iconographic representation was extremely popular. An early iconographic representation of this form of Shiva is a charming stone relief of circa 7th century date, from the Pallava period, now in the collection of the National Museum, New Delhi (S. Kramrisch, Manifestations of Shiva, Philadelphia, 1981, cat. 55, p. 67). In this tender family portrait we see the divine couple seated in a relaxed posture upon a plinth, with the infant Skanda on his mother Uma’s lap. The iconography was conventionalized in bronze images such as the magnificent 8th century sculpture in the collection of the Government Museum, Madras (K. Khandalavala
(ed.), Indian Bronze Masterpieces, New Delhi 1988, fig. 4, p. 145) where Shiva and Uma are seated upon a tiered plinth or bhadrapeedam
From an artistic and iconographic standpoint this arresting sculpture embodies the essential qualities of Shiva and Uma. Their union is a symbol of completeness and unity, “…like a word and its meaning.” (S. Kramrisch, Manifestations of Shiva, Philadelphia, 1981, xviii) Shiva’s expansive, powerful chest seems to be inflated with breath. His face with its prominent features radiates a calm divinity. His mismatched earrings symbolize the incorporation of both male and female energies into a single Godhead. The sculpture radiates not only Shiva’s beauty but also his majesty and strength as the immutable Omniscient Being who generates the eternal cycles of creation and destruction. Uma’s lithe, supple form is an embodiment of beauty and perfection while her gently smiling face emanates spiritual and aesthetic joy. Her body is turned slightly inwards to face her lord Shiva, cementing their union and binding them together in an everlasting image of power, majesty, benevolence and transcendence.

Caturvimsati-patti of Rsabha
South India, Andhra Pradesh or Karnataka
c. 10th century, Calukyan period
Bronze

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Caturvimsati-patti of Rsabha
South India, Andhra Pradesh or Karnataka
c. 10th century, Calukyan period
Bronze
12 x 6 1/4 in. (30.5 x 15.9 cm.)

Rsabha stands upon a lotus that seems to be emerging from the rectangular pedastel below. Lotus flowers emerge from either side supporting two divinities: the corpulent male yaksa named Sarvanubhuti and the voluptuous mother goddess Ambika. The former holds his usual attributes connoting prosperity. Ambika holds mangoes in her right hand. The openwork quality of this sculptural assembly of the twenty-four Jinas of our age lends it an overall sense of delicacy that especially characterizes bronzes made in the Deccan during the time of the Later Calukyan dynasty. Almost as much empty space remains between the figural and ornamental imagery, in contrast to the much denser presentations found on caturvimsati- pattas from the north. The superstructure is supported by a series of slender pillars; the simplicity of the pillars and other architectural elements bespeaks a tenth century date, for by the eleventh century such features became far more elaborate. The surrounding Jinas sit in the half cross-legged meditation posture (ardha- padmasana or ardha- paryankasana) that is typical for Jina icons made in southern India. None is provided with a cognizance, or symbol by which he can be identified. However, Parsva, the twenty- third Jina, can be recognized at the top of the composition, for he sits under the hooded serpent. The first Jina of our age, Rsabha, is featured as the main central icon in Kyotsagara (body abandonment posture), and he can be identified by the locks of hair that lie over his shoulders and by the leaves of the Asoka tree that hang in the overlapping lappets on either side of his triple parasol; this is the type of tree under which he sat in his first meditation after his renunciation. The crown of his head has virtually no usnisa, which is not unusual in images from northern Karnataka in particular, and it is covered with flat curls, which is typical for Jina bronzes of this region.

-Victorious Ones, Jain Images of Perfection, Rubin Museum of Art, Granoff

Seated Parvati
India
c. 10th century, Chola Dynasty
Copper Alloy

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Seated Parvati
South India, Tamil Nadu
c. 10th century, Chola Dynasty
Copper Alloy

15 x 8 1/2 in. (38.1 x 21.6 cm.)

Provenance:
Acquired from a prominent Italian dealer, from an important Italian collection

The goddess Parvati is commonly known as the divine consort of Shiva, mother to Ganesh and Skanda. The poet Kalidasa tells the story of Parvati’s origins in his epic, “Kumarasambhavam.” Shiva had given himself to the ascetic way of life and retreated to the wilderness, while the demon Taraka had been granted a boon of invincibility so that no creature except for a child of Shiva could take his life. Parvati’s existence was manifested by Shiva’s need for a wife to bear his child – the gods searched for a consort to bring Shiva out of his reclusion, withdrawn from society and desire, so that he could provide a child to vanquish Taraka. When the gods sent Kama, god of love, to infect Shiva with desire for Parvati, Shiva incinerated Kama out of irritation that the gods would not leave him to be in peace. Before his demise, however, Kama successfully influenced Shiva, who then agreed to marry Parvati (she later convinced him to revive Kama).

Subsequently, Parvati is revered as the goddess of love and fertility, symbolizing the duality of domesticity and asceticism. The present work dates to the 10th century, early in the Chola dynasty (9th – 13th centuries), which saw the height of artistic production in Southern India. Shown here seated on a lotus in lalitasana, Parvati’s sensuous curves and full breasts are highly representative of the Chola style. Most sculptures were commissioned for temple worship, but portable bronze pieces such as this one would be carried into the streets after being cleansed and consecrated for festivals, processions, and other events. Poles would be inserted into the holes at the base of the sculpture for this purpose.

Ganesh
South India, Tamil Nadu
c. 13th century, Late Chola Dynasty
Copper Alloy

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Ganesha
South India, Tamil Nadu
c. 13th century, late Chola Dynasty
Copper Alloy
18 x 10 x 8 in. (45.7 x 25.4 x 20.3 cm.)

Provenance: From an important Italian collection

This image of Ganesha, the remover of obstacles depicts a four-armed figure standing so in tribhangha, the Eastern equivalent of contrapposto, with his primary hands holding his broken tusk and a bowl of laddus (sweetmeats). His secondary hands hold the battle axe and lotus, while his trunk grasps some sweets. Ganesha is adorned with a double strand necklace, armlets, anklets, yajnopavita (sacred cord worn around shoulder to waist) and a dhoti worn as shorts. His corpulent stomach is barely constrained by his waistband. Sculpted in the round, attention to detail is evident throughout the bronze, such as the distinct strands of hair as they come to a curl at his necklace. The elaborate crown is decorated with a geometric diamond pattern, resembling the large diadem in the front and back of his crown.

Compare the squat proportions, rounded legs and prodigious potbelly with a standing Ganesh image in the temple of Tirumangalakudi; see Dehejia et al., 2002, fig.1, p.140

Vishnu
India, late Chola Period
Early 14th century
Bronze

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Vishnu
India, late Chola Period
Early 14th century
Bronze
23 1/4 in. (59.4 cm.)

Provenance: Sothebys, New York, September 20th, 2005, Lot no. 69
Art Loss Certificate S00132257

The four-armed deity stands erect in samapada on a circular lotus base supported by a multi-tiered square plinth. His principal right hand is in the fear dispelling abhayamudra. The preserver is adorned in a tall jeweled crown, several necklaces and foliate armbands. His broad shoulders are accentuated by a tapered waist and soft bulging belly, his elongated torso supported by muscular legs covered in a finely incised patterned veshti, which is elegantly knotted on both sides and secured by a wide girdle with a kirrtimukha at the center. Meant to be viewed in the round, the back of the sculpture is no less masterful than the front. His muscular back and pronounced buttocks project three-dimensional power. His tear-drop shaped face is accentuated by arching eyebrows, almond-shaped eyes, a straight aquiline nose, and gently smiling lips. The sensuous modeling coupled with the confident and assured treatment of form suggests a mature or late Chola date for the sculpture.

A Jain shrine of Candraprabha
Western India, Rajasthan
Dated and inscribed, Samvat 1481 (1424 AD)
Bronze with silver and copper inlay

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A Jain shrine of Candraprabha
Dated and inscribed, Samvat 1481 (1424 AD)
Western India, Rajasthan
Bronze with silver and copper inlay
7 x 5 in. (18 x 13 cm.)

Provenance: From the collection of oriental scholar Simon Digby

“This sculptural assemblage features the eighth Jina of the world cycle, Candraprabha, identifiable by inscription. It is exemplar of a popular type of devotional sculpture produced in western India during the fifteenth century. Although the elements have become abbreviated and formulaic, this sculpture presents a visually powerful impression that comes with the sculptor having had the benefit of hundreds of years of experience in producing caturvimsatti- patta.Its power lies in the repetition of geometric and abstracted elements within an almost perfectly symmetrical composition that is anchored by the central seated figure of the Jina. The curving waistband and incised semicircular lines below his crossed legs reference the lower garment, which is more clearly discernable on the standing figures; the garments indicate that this piece was used by members of the Svetambara sect. The figure of the central seated Jina stands out from the array with his oversize eyes and Srivatsa inlaid with silver, his stellate nimbus, the graphically zigzagging fringe of his compacted parasol above, and the horizontal cushion decorated with a row of five alternating silver and copper lozenges below. Creating a pentad (pancatirtha)- the grouping of five conjures the central Jain notion of the Five Supreme beings (pancaparamethin)- are the pairs of seated and standing Jinas flanking the main icon of Candraprabha. The piece contains celestial musicians and garland bearers along with messenger divinities (sasanadevata) particular to Candraprabha, who are named Vijaya and Bhrkuti. Below, from the outside in, are a pair of worshipping monks or male donors, representations of the nine planets. The small shrine positioned in the center of the lowermost portion of the base houses the figure of the goddess of peace, known as Santidevi.”

– Rubin Museum of Art (New York, N.Y.), and P. E. 1947- Granoff. Victorious Ones: Jain Images of Perfection. New York : Ahmedabad : Ocean Township, NJ: Rubin Museum of Art, 2009.
Reference: S22, Page 202

Kalpavriksha, The Wish- Fulfilling Tree
Western India
c. 15th century
Brass

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Kalpavriksha, The Wish- Fulfilling Tree
Western India
c. 15th century
Brass
28 in. (71 cm.)

Provenance:
Ex Collection Jay C Leff [1925-2000], acquired by 1960
Near & Far Eastern Art, Property of Jay C Leff and Another Collector,
Parke-Bernet Galleries, 980 Madison Ave, New York,
May 9-10, 1969, Lot 140
Published & Exhibited:
Near Eastern and Far Eastern Art from the Collection of Jay C. Leff,
American Federation of Arts,
October 1965- October 1967, No. 64
By: John F. Haskins
The Peaceful Liberators: Jain Art from India, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, November 6, 1994 – January 22, 1995, cat. No. 64 By: Dr. Pratapaditya Pal
Dancing to the Flute: Music and Dance in Indian Art, Art Gallery of New South Wales, June 12 – August 24, 1997, cat. No. 81 By: Dr. Jim Messelos, Jackie Menzies and Dr. Pratapaditya Pal
Published:
“Leaves of a Pipal Tree” by Dr. Harsha V. Dehejia, August 2005, Page 10

“This unusual throne-back is fashioned in the form of a large tree surrounded by a framework containing eleven seated female figures. Close inspection of the tree reveals bunches of three mangoes at the juncture of each limb with the outer frame; this indicates that the now missing main image was originally the goddess Ambika [6o – 63], identified by the mango fruits she holds or by the mango tree under which she is frequently depicted. The female figures in the outer frame are all musicians, except for two attendants bearing flywhisks at the level where the head and shoulders of the main image would have been. The two figures directly above the flywhisk bearers hold hand cymbals, and the remaining figures can also be identified as musicians, since their hands are in positions typically used to hold musical instruments; these must have been separately cast and have not survived. The juxtaposition of Ambika with a retinue of female musicians’ and attendants follows an earlier Western Indian tradition, as there are several reliefs at Mount Abu that portray the goddess with such company (Shah 1987A, fig. 154; Tiwari 1989,56- 57. figs. 16-17). It is possible that the female figures are meant to be devata (subsidiary goddesses), but the position of their hands argues against this since they would have typically held religious attributes in different positions (Shah 1987A, fig. 148; Tiwari 1989, 83, fig. 36). Originally there must have been an additional figure at the base of the frame on each side. These were either musicians, attendants, or perhaps Ambika’s two sons, Siddha and Buddha. A foliate finial presumably once surmounted the frame. Not only is this a representation of Ambika’s mango tree, but it is also the well-known celestial wish- fulfilling tree (Kalpavriksha). The wish fulfilling tree is associated with Ambika in a number of Jain texts, such as the late twelfth century Nemichandra’s Lilavati Prabandham (Shah and Dhaky, 38). The Jains believe that there are ten types of wish-fulfilling trees, which ‘always give to the people whatever they desire without effort on their part’ (Shah 1955. 75). The rewards of worship include wine, dishes of delicacies, fine apparel, musical instruments, lamps, wreaths, ornaments, houses, and divine luminosity.” -Dr. Pratapaditya Pal, The Peaceful Liberators: Jain Art from India.

Bahubali
India, Karnataka 
c. 15th century
Brass

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Bahubali
India, Karnataka 
c. 15th century 
Brass
13 3/4 in. (35 cm.)

Bahubali also called Gommateshwara was a son of Arihant Adishwar. According to Jainism, he was the second of the hundred sons of the first TirthankaraRishabha and king of Podanpur. The Adipurana, a 10th-century Kannada text by poet Adikavi Pampa (fl.941 CE), written in Champu style, a mix of prose and verse and spread over in sixteen cantos, deals with the ten lives of the first tirthankara, Rishabha and his two sons, Bharata and Bahubali. According to the Digambaras he was the first human in this half time cycle to attain liberation.

Shiva Nataraja
South India, Vijayanagar Period   
c. 16th century      
Bronze

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Shiva Nataraja
South India, Vijayanagar Period   
c. 16th century      
Bronze
6 1/2 x 6 x 2 in. (16.5 x 15.3 x 5 cm.)

Provenance:
Private Belgian collection, acquired in 1979

As a symbol, Shiva Nataraja is a brilliant invention. It combines in a single image Shiva’s roles as creator, preserver, and destroyer of the universe and conveys the Indian conception of the never-ending cycle of time. Although it appeared in sculpture as early as the fifth century, its present, world-famous form evolved under the rule of the Cholas.

Shiva’s dance is set within a flaming halo. The god holds in his upper right hand the damaru (hand drum that made the first sounds of creation). His upper left hand holds agni (the fire that will destroy the universe). With his lower right hand, he makes abhayamudra (the gesture that allays fear). The dwarflike figure being trampled by his right foot represents apasmara purusha (illusion, which leads mankind astray, the dwarf of ignorance). Shiva’s front left hand, pointing to his raised left foot, signifies refuge for the troubled soul. The energy of his dance makes his hair fly to the sides. The symbols imply that, through belief in Shiva, his devotees can achieve salvation.

Skanda
South India, Tamil Nadu
c. 11 century, Chola Dynasty
Copper Alloy

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Skanda
South India, Tamil Nadu
c. 11 century, Chola Dynasty
Copper Alloy
26 3/4 in. (68 cm.)

Provenance: From an important Italian collection

A finely cast Chola bronze, the mighty deity Skanda stands tall in the posture of Shiva Vinadhara Dakshinamurti. This portrayal of Shiva depicts the destroyer god with four arms as player of the vina, although there is no known sculptural example including the actual vina. The present work can be identified as Skanda rather than Shiva Vinadhara based on the attributes that he holds: a vajra in the back left hand, and a spearhead in the back right hand. In contrast, Shiva Vinadhara holds a deer and an axe, and is frequently depicted with his characteristic snake. Subsequently, this stylization of Skanda is extremely rare, since he is typically shown as a child with his parents Shiva and Parvati, or as the god of war riding into battle on his peacock. While it is uncommon to see Skanda in the posture of Shiva Vinadhara, two later Tamil Nadu sculptures of Skanda located at the Thanjavur Art Gallery portray the deity with four arms, holding a vajra and spearhead.
The present example likely dates to the beginning of the 11th century, a prosperous time within the Chola dynasty. The Empire flourished under the rule of the great emperor Rajaraja (ruled 985 – 1014 CE) and his son, Rajendra (ruled 1012 – 1044 CE). The two kings oversaw the expansion of Chola reign throughout South India, into the Maldives and a large portion of Sri Lanka. Congruently, Skanda, god of war, reached the height of his popularity around the start of the 11th century and was adopted as the patron saint of the ruling class because their power and affluence was supplied by their military prowess.
Bronze sculpture under Rajaraja was highly advanced, accounting for some of the finest work hailing from the Chola dynasty and South India as a whole. While pinpointing the origin of this Skanda is a challenging task, there are some notable similarities between the current work and other works from the Temple at Thiruvenkadu, a small village near the coast in the Thanjavur district, that have a close but more certain dating. A figure of Vrishabhavahana and Uma Paramesvari were placed in the Thiruvenkadu temple in 1011 and 1012 CE respectively, known by accompanying inscriptions within the temple dating to the 26th and 27th years of Rajaraja. These two magnificent pieces share a squared jawline and a round, especially lifted buttocks with this Skanda, common features that can be traced across various bronzes created for the temple at Thiruvenkadu (see Nagaswamy, R. Masterpieces of Early South Indian Bronzes, 1983, pp. 52-57, pl. 17-31). Similarities between Uma Paramesvari and Skanda can be seen in their accessories: the conical jatamukutas (sanskrit word for hair matted into a crown) contain four almost identical motifs on each side, with the same motifs worn as armbands by both figures, and elongated earlobes that mimic each other. A figure of Kannappan from Thiruvenkadu dating between 975 and 1012 CE sports a square jawline and raised buttocks in line with other bronzes from the region, while the locks of hair falling at the top of his back, resembling Skanda’s hairstyle, are more cropped and defined than sculptures from other locales made around the same date (see Nagaswamy, R. Masterpieces of Early South Indian Bronzes, 1983, pp. 115-116, pl. 108-110). The stance of these bronzes from Thiruvenkadu in typically show the figures leaning on one leg, with a hip popped dramatically to the side, creating a long curve rather than a rigid line from standing straight up (see Dehejia, V. Art of the Imperial Cholas, 1990, p. 75, pl. 57 and p. 85, pl. 66). One last thing to note is the common stylization of the texture located on the dhoti of these figures, wherein the lines accentuate the thighs and trace the buttocks in a flattering manner, an apparent feature employed in the creation of this Skanda.
The similarities between Skanda and the bronzes created in Thiruvenkadu are certainly worth acknowledging, but without concrete evidence one cannot be sure where this fantastic sculpture was conceived. The superior craftsmanship of Skanda lends itself to the claim that it was likely made in the Rajaraja style, characterized by fluent outline and slim torso, although it could have been created under Rajendra, whose sculptors rivaled that of his father’s. For more on artistic production under these two rulers, see Dehejia, V., Art of the Imperial Cholas, 1990, chapter 2: A Tale of Two Emperors.