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Jonathan Tucker and Antonia Tozer

SANDSTONE HANUMAN TORSO
CENTRAL INDIA
MADHYA PRADESH
10TH – 11TH CENTURY
H. 165 CMS, 65 INS.
W. 145 CMS, 57 INS .

A monumental reddish sandstone torso of Hanuman, the Monkey God, sculpted in a dynamic sideways aspect with his right arm and left leg raised and his left hand in a delicate form of vitarka (teaching) mudra; resplendent in elaborate jewellery including basubands with Kirtimukha (Face-of-Glory) motifs, necklaces, bracelets and rings, a ceremonial dagger at his belt, with the remains of his tail trailing diagonally across his back.

Hanuman, devotee of Lord Rama (the 7th avatar of Vishnu) is the most celebrated character in the Indian epic, The Ramayana. His most famous feat was to lead an army of monkeys in support of Rama, to fight the demon King Ravana.

This remarkable sculpture has a tremendous sense of restrained energy. For a closely related, 145 cm image of Hanuman in the Gwalior Archaeological Museum, Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, see scan no. 0013767 in the Huntington Archive of Buddhist and Related art: http://huntington.wmc.ohio state.edu/ public/index.cfm?fuseaction=show ThisDetail&ObjectID=14554

The Archaeological Museum, Khajuraho, has a complete, high relief figure of Varaha in similar pose - see pp 116-7 in Grace Morley, Indian Sculpture, New Delhi: Roli Books, 2005. A second figure of Varaha in the L.A. County Museum of Art wears a similar dagger - see cat. no. 44 in P. Pal, The Sensuous Immortals: A Selection of Sculptures from the Pan-Asian Collection, L.A. County Museum of Art, 1977. A related image of Bhairava from the Heeramaneck collection has similar Kirtimukha basubands – see cat. no. 43 in Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, The Arts of India and Nepal: The Nasli and Alice Heeramaneck Collection, Boston: MFA, 1966.

Note: This sculpture weighs 580 kg and is too heavy to display in our gallery. It can be viewed by arrangement in our storage facility.

all text, images Jonathan Tucker and Antonia Tozer

 

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