Enquiry about object: 8634

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    Indian Bronze Image of a Vaishnava Poet-Saint (Alvar)

    Tamil Nadu, South India
    17th-18th century

    height: 6.2cm, width: 4.2cm, depth: 3.5cm, weight: 143g



    UK art market

    – scroll down to see further images –

    The beautifully cast and worked image of an Alvar shows the saint seated cross-legged on a rounded cushion on a raised, rectangular platform, with hands in vitarka and dhyana mudra, and with the hair piled to the back of the head and twisted around in a finely-rendered bun.

    The shaping and styling of the hair is a particularly fine feature of this carefully rendered bronze.

    The forehead is marked with a urdhva pundra mark or tilak showing the adherence to Vishnu.

    The figure wears a striped dhoti and various items of jewellery including long earrings.

    The Alvars were a group of 12 poet-saints who lived in in Tamil Nadu during the 5th to 10th centuries AD and were devoted to the god Vishnu. They were the catalysts for the Bhakta movement which garnered support for Vishnu devotion.

    The example here might be Nammalvar who remained speechless from the moment of his birth, and sat under a tamarind tree.

    The bronze is particularly fine and has a lovely dark chocolate patina.


    Guy, J., Indian Temple Sculpture, V&A Publications, 2007.

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