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Christophe Hioco

Head of a Deva
India
Gupta period (5th - 6th c.)
terracotta
9 1/8 inches

This terra cotta sculpture depicts a head crowned by a tiara, richly decorated with pearl garlands and cabochons. The rich styling of the hair suggest identifying it as a divinity, probably a Deva, but the lack of any additional ornamentation and attributes - given that the figure’s body is missing - makes it difficult to prove this interpretation.

This piece is striking in its elegance and the extreme delicacy of its traits. Careful attention is paid to the coroplasty of the shape and by the facial expression, especially the eyes.

The subtle reproduction of the face, both supple and smooth, is full of gracious curves and roundness right down to the elegant shape of the lips. All this is characteristic of Gupta sculpture and makes it possible to confirm the presumed stylistic affiliation and dating.

The arrival of the Gupta sovereigns to power around the 4th century, along with an expansion of political control in the north and central regions of India, mark the apogee of Indian classicism. Gupta sculptors perfectly blended the reality of the flesh with the essence of the divine in their representations of their gods, influencing all of Hindu and Buddhist Asia.

all text, images Christophe Hioco

 

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