6630

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Exceptional, Indian, Solid-Silver Image of Rama

North India
18th century

height: 9.4cm, weight (including stand): 316g

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Provenance

UK art market

Depictions in India of Hindu gods in silver rather than bronze are relatively rare and this example of Rama is exceptional. It is extremely well cast in solid, high-grade silver, and then chiselled and engraved. The attention to detail is superb – some of the detailing is so fine  that it needs a magnifying glass to be fully appreciated. The depiction of the deity’s muscular contours, the detailing of the fingers and toes down to the toenails, the detail of the headdress and so on are all excellent.

The image shows Rama seated with his left leg touching the ground and his right leg raised. The big toe of his left foot is spread from the rest of his toes to give him better balance. He holds a trident spear in his right hand and a bow in his left.

An animal skin quiver rests behind his right shoulder. He wears a tall conical headdress of the piled-up hair of an aesthetic, a short dhoti, heavy earrings, broad arm bands, bracelets, anklets, necklaces, waist bands and other elements suggestive of his princely status.

The image has a softness from light wear due to ritual prayer or puja use.

The styling of the image suggests a northern Indian provenance rather than a southern one. The fineness of the casting, the patina and wear all suggest an 18th century attribution.

Rama, the seventh incarnation of Vishnu, is a relatively minor deity whose task was to kill a demon king who held his wife captive. But from this story, Rama has entered into the mainstream of Indian mythology and is a major figure in Indian epic poetry, particularly in the Mahabharata and the Ramayana.

The image is fixed to a custom-made stand. The stand itself has good age and probably dates to the 1970s. The image is exquisite.

References

Mitchell, A.G., Hindu Gods and Goddesses, UBSPD, 1982.

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