Enquiry about object: 8955

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    Indian Bronze of a Vaishnavite Saint

    Tamil Nadu, South India
    17th-18th century

    height: 9.6cm, width: 6.9cm, depth: 4.8cm, weight: 533g



    UK art market

    This Vaishnavite saint sits cross-legged in ardhapadmasana on an inverted lotus (padmapeeta) which in turn sits atop a rectangular base (bhadrapeeta.) The hands are in the jnana mudra gesture.

    The figure is fleshy, and his head is mostly shaven other than for a tuft at the rear (pin kudumi).

    This saint is probably an Alvar – 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.

    True to being a saint, the figure wears little other than a simple loin cloth and a sacred cord across his chest. His ears are pierced but he wears no earrings – possibly this is an allusion to a more materialistic life before adopting the life of an ascetic.

    The bronze has a beautiful patina, and a rich, dark chocolate colour.


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

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