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Jonathan Tucker & Antonia Tozer

Sandstone Sarasvati Relief
Vietnam, Cham Period
11th-12th c. (Thap Mam Style)
H. 58 cm, 23 ins

A sandstone relief with a depiction of a female deity, probably Sarasvati, smiling serenely and seated within an arched niche holding a lotus stem in each hand, her sampot with three folds at the waist and a turned over central flap; adorned with a heavy necklace and earrings and wearing an intricate diadem.

Sarasvati, wife of Brahma and goddess of art and science is usually depicted in Cham sculpture dancing or seated with a lotus in each hand- see plates 76 and 176 in Cao Xuan Pho, Cham Sculpture Album, Hanoi: Social Sciences Publishing House, 1988. There is also normally a hamsa (royal goose) at her feet, the absence of which means that the identification of this sculpture as Sarasvati can be no more than tentative. For a similar figure of a seated female from Thap Mam, identified as Lakshmi, see plate 172, ibid. See also fig. 167 in J. Boisselier, La Statuaire du Champa: Recherches sur les cultes et l�iconographie, Paris: École Française d�Extrême-Orient, 1963.

Works of art in the Thap Mam style are found almost exclusively in Bin Dinh province, close to the town of Quy Nhon. The sculpture of Thap Mam (�the ruined tower�) is influenced by Khmer art of the Angkor Wat and Bayon periods and is both Hindu and Buddhist.

Private English collection.

all text, images � Jonathan Tucker and Antonia Tozer


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