2. Seated Yaksha
Mathura region, Uttar Pradesh, India
3rd/4th century CE
Spotted red sandstone
Height: 33 x 44.7cms.
This relief which is carved out of the typical spotted red sandstone found in the area around Mathurā in northern India. It depicts a seated portly figure who represents a special category of godlings in ancient India known as yakshas. The sculpture is deeply carved, and exudes a great sense of power. The male figure sits in the bhadrāsana posture, with the left leg raised and right leg down. The figure is dominated by the huge stomach, which is shaped almost in a complete round, and is supported by the lower leg. It is in proportion to the large head. The facial features are quite refined, with large and well-shaped brows and eyes, a fine nose, and an elaborate upturned moustache over a full mouth. The yaksha’s large ears are elongated further by the weight of the kundalas he wears, which rest on his shoulders. His hair is carved in small snail-like curls, similar to those seen on the heads of Buddha figure’s from the late Kushāna and Gupta periods. Around his neck hangs a twisted rope-like garland. The figure is now armless, but from the breakage points under the arms, it would appear that both the hands of the yaksha were raised to hold up an object, such as a bowl. The yaksha’s stomach and raised left leg are bound by a yogapatta or meditation band. Although it is not clearly visible, the yaksha wears a lower garment, like a dhotī, whose folds can be discerned between his legs and also on his right leg. The feet are well sculpted. In general, the figure is finely fashioned, and exudes both majesty and strength.
There are some remarkably similar yakshas found from Mathurā and surrounding areas, all fashioned from spotted red sandstone, which may be compared to our example. A very similar seated yaksha can be found in the collections of the National Museum, New Delhi.
Another seated armless yaksha with yogapatta from Maholi in the Mathurā district, Uttar Pradesh, shows an almost identical image to the figure being presented here. Government Museum, Mathurā, India.
Provenance: Formerly in a French collection.
Detail: left and right side view