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CITATION THUMBNAILS PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE
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Table of Contents
Map of the subcontinent of India
Plates and figures
n 1956 a group of Indian sculptures was
placed on display in the loggia of the John
and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. These sev-
enteen works were purchased by Mr. John Ring-
ling in the thirties at the close of his collecting
career, and then lay hidden in the museum's
basement for some thirty years. Records which
could tell of how and where these sculptures
were obtained have been lost, but the fact that
they constitute a rich gift to the people of Flori-
da is apparent in the works themselves. Today
they become even more significant as interest in
America quickens for the great cultures of the
The present study undertakes to describe four-
teen of these sculptures (Three minor pieces,
Plates 15, 16, and 17, are not discussed in the
body of the text, but are reproduced and identi-
fied in the Plate section.) in such fashion as to
provide each with its date, with its region of
origin, and with an explanatory description of
its religious or mythological subject matter. I
have presented the sculptures in chronological
sequence without attempting to provide exten-
sive historical data. This the reader may find
in standard histories of Indian art. It is hoped
that the accompanying map and the chrono-
logical table will be illuminating.
Many people have earned my gratitude for
their help on this project; here I must mention
Professors Allen Sievers and John Spencer, who
read and commented on the manuscript; Mr.
Don Denny, Dr. Barbara Ebersole, Mrs. Helen
Haines of the University of Florida Press, and
Professor Walter Herbert of the University of
Florida Humanities Monograph Committee for
correcting and working out many technical as-
pects; Professor W. Norman Brown for identify-
ing and translating the inscription on the image
in Plate 10; Mr. Charles O'Neal for his assistance
in photographing the works at the museum; Pro-
fessor F. Van Deren Coke for the photograph
which became Plate 12A; and as always Lorna
Craven for her untiring help and encourage-
The generous permission of individuals, pub-
lishers, and museums to quote and to reproduce
photographs from their works is hereby ac-
knowledged: Mrs. A. K. Coomaraswamy of
Cambridge, Massachusetts, Figures C and E; Dr.
I. Grafe of the Phaidon Press, London, figures
D and M; Mr. George Hill of Bruno Cassirer,
Ltd., London, Figures J and K; Mr. B. L. Man-
kad, Director of the Baroda Museum and Picture
Gallery, Figure L; Mr. V. P. Mathur of the
Archaeological Museum, Mathura, Figure B;
Miss Joan Rassieur of the Museum of Fine Arts,
Boston, Figure I; D. H. Sahiar, Marg Magazine,
Bombay, Figures G and H; Mr. S. P. Srivastava,
Director of Archaeology and Museums, Rijas-
than, Jaipur, Figures J and K; Mr. V. S. Srivastv,
Curator of the Ganga Golden Jubilee Museum,
Bikiner; Mr. A. H. N. Vermey, Rijksmuseum
voor Volkenkunde, Leiden, Figure F; and Mr.
Archibald Gibson Wenley, Director of the Freer
Gallery of Art, Washington, Figure A. The plates
are reproduced from photographs taken by the
author at the Ringling Museum in Sarasota,
I would especially like to cite Mr. Kenneth
Donahue, Director of the John and Mable Ring-
ling Museum of Art, who brought these Indian
sculptures out of their darkened exile and once
again presented them to an appreciative public.
ROY C. CRAVEN, JR.
Map of the
Subcontinent of India vi
Plates and Figures
follow page 14
Chronological Table 25
Map I. The subcontinent of India showing sites mentioned in text.
BAY OF BENGAL
The most significant achievement in Indian art
was that of the sculptors.' Working in remote
antiquity, they created a robust record of one of
the world's oldest continuous civilizations-a
record which proves to be a revealing image of
the aesthetic as well as the religious realities of
the Indian mind.
Small sculptured pieces from the Indus Valley civilization, cre-
ated during the second or third millennium B. c., displayed a highly
developed skill and plastic awareness. These qualities are evident
in the three-dimensional figures of stone and metal as well as in
the many toy animals of clay recovered from the ruined cities.
Some Middle-Eastern influence is apparent in the numerous in-
taglio seals, but the early florescence of the indigenous style, com-
petent in craftsmanship and sensitive to aesthetic considerations,
is truly Indian.
The cities of the Indus were destroyed around 1500 B. c. by the
conquering Aryans who brought with them from the steppes of
central Asia their rude nomadic culture. Thus a sophisticated and
ordered civilization succumbed to a primitive and virile one. From
this period up to the time of the Buddha few physical works re-
main, but literary sources tell how the Aryan import, blending
with the indigenous cults and traditions, evolved into a new Indian
Two great religions other than Vedic-Brahmanism were to origi-
nate with this evolving culture. The Buddhist and Jain movements
both developed from Brahmanism as reforms, but where Jainism
was a projection and refinement of the parent religion, Buddhism
became a true schism with complete autonomy. Each sect origi-
nated with a historic savior: Gautama Siddhartha (c. 563-483 B. c.)
was the founder of Buddhism, while his contemporary, Mahavird
(c. 540-468 B. c.), was the first tirthankara (teacher) of the Jains.
1. The word Indian or India in this paper refers to the whole geographical
subcontinent, which today includes both countries of India and Pakistan.
The first great Buddhist king, ASoka (c. 273-232 B. c.), zealously
propagated the new faith throughout his vast empire, which
stretched southward from the northern mountains and the area now
known as Afghanistan across to all but the extreme tip of the Indian
subcontinent. This flourishing state religion produced the first Bud-
dhist works of art, but this early activity was only the beginning.
By the second century B. c. the masterworks on the great railing
Figure A at Bharhut, in central India, had been carved (Figure A), and
early in the following century the gates at Sanchi were created.
Other works at Sanchi as well as the first reliefs at Amarivati were
executed later, during the active period from the last century before
Christ through the first century of the new era. The momentum
thus gained was accelerated, and by the second and third centuries.
Buddhists were engaged in tremendous artistic production through-
The first Indian sculptures in the John and Mable Ringling Mu-
seum of Art actually date from this later period of the third cen-
tury and come from the ancient and famous region known as Gand-
hara. This area, located in what today is northern Pakistan and
eastern AfghanistEn, was invaded and conquered around A. D. 65
by a nomadic tribe known as the Yueh-Chih, who pushed into
India and established the Kusdna empire. Under its patronage and
the stimulus of Buddhism the region produced a distinct style of
sculpture which was to influence subsequent schools of art not
only in India but throughout Asia.
In this area and elsewhere in India, at the beginning of the
Christian era, Buddhism underwent a transformation, and the older
and more orthodox form of Buddhism known as "the lesser vehi-
cle," or Hinaydna, was being challenged by a more humanistic
concept. This new concept was later to be known as "the greater
vehicle," or the Mahdydna doctrine. With the advent of this move-
ment the Buddha, in art, takes on a deified human form, and
whereas in the past his holy presence had been symbolized as a
tree, wheel, umbrella, footprints, and other nonhuman forms (Fig-
Figure A ure A), he now began to be delineated as an actual human savior.
The origin and appearance of the human form of Buddha have
been the subject of many scholarly investigations and still seem to
elude the clear light of certainty. May scholars have felt that the
Buddha figure was a Hellenic inspiration, entering Indian art in
Gandhira, while others assert that this realism was nothing new
to the Indian scene, and that indigenous Buddhist sculptors had
previously perfected a Buddha figure inspired by Indian proto-
types.2 We know that the Gandharan area, for some time prior to
the first century, had been in direct and extended contact with
the West. Alexander the Great, in 326 B. c., had penetrated into
India as far as Taxila, eventually one of the chief sites for Gan-
dharan sculpture, and from that time forward a more or less direct
contact with the Mediterranean world existed. The Greek kingdoms
of Bactria, northwest of Gandhara, had lasted almost until the
beginning of the first century B. c., and later, current with the
Fourth Buddhist Council (c. A. D. 100, a time which also marks
the approximate schism between the Hinaydna and Mahdydna fac-
tions), an envoy was sent to Trajan in Rome. Other political and
economic relations between East and West might be cited, but the
most significant fact to be remembered is that by the second cen-
tury itinerant Roman sculptors were probably at work in Gan-
dhara.3 Therefore, it would seem that the Buddha figure is of an
Indo-Roman origin and probably came into being in the Gandharan
area sometime around the beginning of the Christian era. But per-
haps it is only necessary to know that the abstracted and symbol-
ized deity became delineated into a recognizable human form
after the religious climate had been altered by the more liberal
doctrine of Mahdydna.4
The first example from Gandhira is an excellent piece and de-
picts the episode from the Buddha's life which occurred, according
to legend, seven weeks after the enlightenment at the base of the
Bo-tree (Plate 1). Returning from a journey, two merchants with Plate 1
five hundred chariots were passing near the holy tree when the
wheels sank into the ground and refused to move. The merchants
discovered the Holy One, paid him homage, and offered him food.
Now the four lokapdlas, or Guardians of the Quarters of Heaven,
who had been watching from above, knew that the Buddha had
no bowl with which to receive the alms, and immediately offered
him bowls of gold. These the Buddha rejected as inappropriate for
alms, as he did the ones of silver and of emeralds which followed.
At last he accepted simple stone bowls, and with them he received
2. See Coomaraswamy, "Origin of the Buddha Figure," pp. 287-329.
3. Rowland, Art and Architecture of India, p. 73.
4. For a discussion of Mahayana Buddhism, see Zimmer, Philosophies of
India, pp. 507-534.
the merchants' offerings. He blessed the merchants and they went
their way rejoicing.
In the sculptural fragment the right half of the scene has been
broken away, and only the maimed image of the seated Buddha
and a procession of figures remain to the left. The fracture runs
across the piece diagonally, cutting into the halo and head of the
Buddha but leaving his body and low throne intact. Two loka-
palas, holding bowls, lean in and give a thrust of action toward
the central figure of the lord, while a third figure, possibly holding
a flower blossom in his raised right hand, stands to the extreme
left and closes off the scene. Above him two broken figures fade
at their waists into the background and share the top region with a
stylized tree. At the extreme left of the piece, two figures, one
standing and one above fading into the background, are all that
remain of another episode. Between them and the scene of the
presentation of the bowls stands a vertical niche containing a
column with an ornate Persepolitan capital composed of animals.
This type of capital was known in India from the time of ASoka,
and its presence here further illustrates the cosmopolitan char-
acter of the Gandharan sculptural style. The column unit is a typi-
cal device used by the sculptors of Gandhara to divide the episodes
of a sculptural narrative. The method of displaying the narrative
of the Buddha's life in a continuous horizontal frieze made up of
separate self-contained sculptural "pictures" was constantly used on
Gandharan buildings and stupas, and served as an unending visual
sermon to the devotee. The convex face of this relief suggests that
it may have originally formed a segment of a sculptural narrative
circling a stupa.
This work displays some Western influence, but the main mood
and underlying action is typically Indian and is reminiscent of
earlier Buddhist works carved at Amarivati. This excellent Gan-
dharan piece must have been executed at some time during the
first half of the third century.5
The next work is a small bodhisattva figure seated upon a simple
throne backed by a large circular halo which rises from behind
Plate 2 his shoulders (Plate 2). This Buddha-to-be is the bodhisattva
5. In dating the Gandhiran works many references were consulted, but
most useful were the excellent text and plates found in the exhibition catalogue
by Professor Rowland, Gandhara Sculpture from Pakistan Museums and Mar-
shall, Buddhist Art of Gandhara.
Maitreya, or the Buddha who will next appear on earth, and is
identified by the amrta jug which he holds in his left hand. Be-
cause of this bodhisattva's benevolent quality we can be sure that
his broken right hand must have originally performed the abhdya-
mudrd. This gesture of assurance and protection is made by raising
the right hand with its palm facing outward and the fingers raised
and joined. Other distinctive marks of identity are the firnd, or a
tuft of hair shown as a small round dot above the bridge of the
nose, and the ushnisha, which is the protuberance on the top of
the head and shows here as a crown of hair. This elaborate treat-
ment of the hair, a classical element, shows how strong the Roman
influence was in Gandhara. A stylized necklace hangs from the
figure's neck, as does a pendant from his undamaged left ear, and
a bracelet is seen on the left wrist. The robe twines over and
around the left shoulder and arm leaving the right shoulder and
the trunk bare. Mathuran influence is evidenced by the excessively
large ringed halo and the two exposed feet.6 The low throne is sup-
ported at each corner by legs fashioned after those of a lion. Heavy,
compact, and precisely carved, this sculpture at first seems re-
moved from the mainstreams of the Gandhiran style, but in reality
these qualities are the mannerisms of "the melancholy process of
decline" and are generally found in the works of the "later ma-
turity period."7 Therefore a date of the last half of the third century
is suggested for this unique work.
The museum's next piece from Gandhara presents another archi-
tectural relief (Plate 3). Two compositional arrangements are con- Plate 3
trained within the vertical structure of the stone, and they suggest
that the piece was originally part of a door jamb or some similar
It is interesting to contrast this work with the first example, the
presentation of the begging bowls, and to see the "frozen" feeling
here in this third piece. It is not as finished or as competent as the
6. Mathura, modern Muttra, located thirty miles north of Agra on the
Jumna River, has been a religious center from ancient times. It has been im-
portant to the Jains, Buddhists, and Hindus, and is associated with the birth
and life of Sri Krishna. An early seat of Jain art activity, a fact which some
scholars feel points to an Indian origin of the Buddha image, Mathura later
produced a distinctive style of Buddhist sculpture. This style was contemporary
with the art of Gandhara and Amaravati and influenced not only current and
subsequent Buddhist and Hindu art, but that of the Jains as well.
7. See Marshall, Buddhist Art of Gandhdra, p. 103.
earlier work, and evident is a heavy and stiff cast to the style. The
two scenes ares episodes from the Buddha's life, but exactly which
two is difficult to say. Below, the Buddha is seen displaying the
abhaya-mudrd to a variety of listeners. The figure at the Buddha's
right shoulder with the circular headdress is the god Indra while
at the Buddha's left shoulder Vajrapani (see below) and the god
Brahma are seen. A woman standing to the Buddha's right
and a monk to his left, whose face is broken away, seem to be
holding similar objects. The objects which they carry are obscure,
but since the woman is not dressed in royal attire and seems to
wear a sari over her head in the style of the common people, this
scene might depict the episode where a casteless girl was accepted
into the order. Buddha's favorite disciple, Ananda, insisted that the
girl, Prakriti, give him a drink of water. This she did despite caste
regulations, which so pleased the Buddha that he made her a nun.
Since a monk is the other chief figure in the composition this
identification seems plausible.
The situation in the scene above is even more intriguing. The
Buddha is again shown holding his hand in the "fear-not" or bless-
ing mudrd and is surrounded by people of various types. Notice
especially the seminude youth posed to the Buddha's left, who
easily could have stepped from a Roman work of the first century,
and who, since he carries a thunderbolt in his left hand, is identi-
fied as Vajrap~ni, the constant companion of the Buddha in Gan-
dhdran sculpture. Of more interest is the damaged and bearded
figure standing to the Buddha's right. His threatening attitude and
his demonic appearance, even to the suggested horns on the head,
are items which tempt us to believe that we see here a yaksha (tu-
telary god) accosting the lord. This figure could indicate the epi-
sode where the Buddha defied and converted Atavika, the forest
yaksha, who fed upon human flesh. The tree behind the yaksha
figure further implies the subject.
Whatever the subjects of this stone may be, the interrupted
architrave which permits a higher Buddha figure to dominate the
groups, the fold patterns on the Buddha figures, and the widow's
peak in the hairline of the Buddha again indicate a date of the third
A small fragment from the base of a standing Buddha or bodhi-
sattva figure is of interest because the museum's records state that
it was found in the Malakand Pass by the Chitral expedition in
1895 (Plate 6). All that remains of the large figure above is the Plate 6
front half of the right foot showing all five toes. Since the bodhi-
sattvas generally are shown wearing sandals and the Buddha figures
barefooted, and since there is no thong showing here between the
toes, the evidence suggests that the missing figure was that of the
Buddha. Beneath the foot is a floral frieze which is supported from
below by a square pilaster surmounted by a Corinthian-like capital.
This style of western capital with its flat pilaster is quite prevalent
in Gandharan sculpture after the first century, and is another tangi-
ble example of Hellenic influence. To the right of the pilaster are
two figures facing toward the position where either a seated Bud-
dha or a symbol would be located if that portion were not broken
away. Judging by the width of the large foot, two other figures
and a pilaster would complete that area of the missing pedestal.
The small worshipful figures appear to be a man and a woman and
are summarily carved and completely distorted, having the strange
height ratio of four heads. This fragment also can be attributed
to the third century.
The last Gandharan relief comes, according to museum records,
from Hoti-Mardan, and is unfortunately only a small remnant of
a larger work (Plate 4). Prominently displaying paired parallel lines Plate 4
of drapery, it must date from the late third or early fourth century.
This beautiful fragment with five figures in attitudes of adoration
originally formed the left hand side of a larger work depicting
the Buddha's first sermon. The three standing devotees are dressed
in the garb of nobility, and the one to the extreme right wears a
royal turban-like headdress similar to the ones we have observed
on the figures in the museum's first example. Below, two monks
are seated upon gadis, or platforms, decorated with geometric pat-
terns. At the extreme right a partial image of a tree with stylized
foliage closes off the unit.
Evident here is a sureness of execution and an elegant grace
which, with the exception of the relief depicting the presentation
of the begging bowls, is missing in most of the museum's other
examples from Gandhira. One wishes that fate might have spared
this work's fragmentation because in this small masterpiece is seen
an accomplishment which demanded more from the sculptor than
did many larger works.
The Ringling Museum's next four sculptures are the products of
the other religious movement which, like Buddhism, resulted from
a reform of Brahmanism. The religion of the jinas (victors), Jain-
ism originated with Mahavird (great hero), who was born about
540 B. c. and was a contemporary of the Buddha.
Jainism, a religion of extreme austerity, sees all the universe as a
living order of jivas, or souls. Not only do plants and animals have
souls, but rocks, water, air, everything. The life of a Jain monk is
governed by five vows: to abjure killing, stealing, lying, sexual ac-
tivity, and the possessing of property. With the whole universe
alive with souls, and any killing or other act of violence looked
upon as the greatest of sins, the Jains have carried the concept of
ahimsd (nonviolence to living things) to the greatest extremes. A
devout monk will wear a veil over his mouth, not only to avoid
breathing in the most minute living beings in the air, but to keep
from overly harming the air itself as he breathes it! He also may
carry a small broom with which to clear his path of ants and
other insects that might be crushed as he walks along.8
The Jains do not consider Mahivira as the founder of their re-
ligion, but as the last of twenty-four great tirthankaras (makers-
of-the-river-crossing), or teachers, who show the way to salvation.
These teachers are shown in art as saints perfectly detached from
earthly bondage, who through penance and abstention have not
only cleansed themselves of their egos, but have purified their
biological physiques as well. Originally the Jain monks rejected
clothing and caste marks as symbols of involvement with the world,
and went abroad completely naked. Some of the standing images
of the tirthankaras are shown in the attitude known as kAyotsarga,
or "dismissing the body." These icons of ideal purity present a se-
ries of saint images completely devoid of costume and physical
aberration, which, because of this anonymous perfection, makes in-
dividual identity difficult. It is fortunate that each tirthankara is
associated with a particular symbol or emblem (ldnchhana) which
is incorporated into works of art and served as the only clue to the
identity of the image.
It is unfortunate that the museum's first Jain image, a tirthankara
Plate 5 (Plate 5) is broken to the extent that no identifying symbol re-
mains. But the figure, executed of red sandstone and seated in
8. For a discussion of Jainism see Zimmer, Philosophies of India, pp. 181-
dhydna-mudrd (meditation) upon a lion throne, possesses a majestic
serenity which is still impressive. Its head and hands have been
broken away, and except for the complete nudity of the figure and
the presence of the diamond shaped &rivatsa jewel in the center of
the broad and powerful chest, this image might easily be mistaken
for a Buddha figure. It is this very close identity between the Jain
and Buddhist images at Mathurd that previously suggested an ex-
clusively Indian origin for the Buddha figure and tended to invali-
date the theory of its creation by the Westernized art of Gandhara.9
In the fragmentary background the headless body of a male at-
tendant, or yaksa, stands to the left of the saint.10 Originally he
held a cauri (fly-whisk) in his missing right hand (see Plate 8). Plate 8
The lower legs and feet are all that remains of a similar figure to
the saint's right. Beneath the tirthankara, a simhasana (lion-throne)
displays a formal arrangement divided by a triangular shape which
hangs down from the center of the seat. A drape and tassel hang at
the top of this shape, and below them, seated in a worshipful at-
titude, two figures represent the donors of the image. Beneath the
donors a series of fractures have removed the lower areas of the
throne, and possibly with them has gone the saint's identifying
symbol (again see Plate 8). To either side of the triangular shape Plate 8
a bejeweled lion is seen in a threatening attitude. With paws raised,
eyes bulging, and tongues extended, the lions present a marked
contrast to the composed and pacific figure of the saint. The lions,
however, are symbolic of the saint's kingly and superhuman state,
and their ferocity refers to his complete dedication to the victory
over the illusions of worldly reality.1x
9. Coomaraswamy, "Origin of the Buddha Figure," pp. 287-329.
10. "Yaksas, no less than nagas, must have been very popular in the pre-
Aryan tradition, to judge from the frequency of their occurrence both on early
Buddhist monuments and in later Indian art. Dwelling in the hills and moun-
tains, they are guardians of the precious metals, stones, and jewels in the
womb of the earth, and so are bestowers of riches and prosperity. Two yaksas
commonly are represented standing at either side of doors, carved on door-
posts, as the guardians of the welfare of the home, and, according to Buddhist
literary sources, a common feature in the inner yard of the ancient Hindu
household was the standing figure of a gigantic yaksa as the tutelary god of
the house."---Zimmer, Art of Indian Asia, I, 43-44.
11. "Such a throne is the common seat and symbol of regal dignity in
the secular realm, where the king is lion among men. Comparably, the En-
lightened One is the lion among spiritual teachers, philosophers, and divines,
and when he lifts his voice to announce the doctrine every other voice is
Two figures seated at the corners of the throne are recessed from
the plane of the lions and triangular shape. The one to the right
appears to be a female and possibly displays the cobra hood of a
nagini, while the other seems to be a dwarf. The significance of
both of these figures is obscure.
Even in its broken state the well-known style, iconography, and
distinct red sandstone material of this image allow us to identify
it as a fourth or fifth century figure of a Jain tirthankara from Ma-
Plate 8 The next image (Plate 8) is of a later date and, though consid-
erably weathered, is more iconographically complete than the pre-
ceding, and is a close parallel to a medieval tirthankara figure in
Figure B the Mathura museum (Figure B). Here on the base of the lion-
throne, worn but intact, is the figure of a small bull which is the
symbol for Rsabhanttha, the first of the twenty-four great saviors.
Standing at either side of the saint, and also somewhat broken,
are two yaksas with their fly-whisks. Hovering above them and
touching the ringed halo are the broken figures of two gandharvas,
or heavenly musicians, holding musical instruments or garlands.
Originally a half-umbrella projected from the background above
the saint's head, but this was broken away with the rest of the
missing top area. Faintly visible, rising vertically from the top of
the saint's head, is a shaft which originally supported the umbrella.
The upper half of the slightly elliptical head is covered by numer-
ous small nubs of curled hair common to both tirthankara and
Buddha images. The ears are elongated and touch the shoulders
and, faintly visible in the center of the chest, is the srivatsa jewel.13
The lion-throne again displays the two lions in threatening atti-
tudes, as well as a figure in each of the recessed corners. The tri-
angular drape and tassel again fall from the center of the throne,
and are here much more elaborate in design than those of the
silenced, unable to refute him. His sermon is therefore the 'lion's roar' (simha-
nada); for when the lion's voice is heard in the wilderness all other animals
fall silent, fearing his approach."-Ibid., p. 169.
12. For images of tirthankaras and Buddhas from Mathura see Coomara-
swamy, History of Indian and Indonesian Art, figs. 84, 85, 86, 87; Coomara-
swamy, "Origin of the Buddha Figure," figs. 39, 52, 64.
18. Compare this image's face with that of the standing figure of Rsab-
hanatha in Zimmer, Art of Indian Asia, II, Plate 389.
In fact, this elaborateness and softening of the form, especially
apparent in the carving of the lions and of the saint's legs, point to
a later and more sophisticated date of execution. This Jain image of
the first tirthankara, Rsabhanatha, must date from about the elev-
enth or twelfth century and come from Rdjputdna or Mathura.
The next two Jain sculptures in the Ringling Museum come from
western India and are carved from a pure white marble which is
associated with the temple complex at Mt. Abf. One is an ornate
pillar or door jamb fragment (Plate 9) and the other (Plate 7) is Plates 7 &
a rather worn and small image of the goddess Shri-Lakshmi. 9
The possibility that the carved pillar was at one time a part of
a temple shrine or cell becomes especially evident when it is com-
pared with the door frame shown in the interior photo (Figure C) Figure C
of the Rsabhanatha Temple at Mt. Abfi.4 There at the bottom, on
either side of the door, is seen, as in the museum's example, a
standing male deity closed in by an elaborately carved niche. Above
this niche are four smaller ones, each containing a seated deity
complete with two female attendants. Since the museum's piece
is broken at the top, only two and a half of the upper niches re-
Running vertically up the jamb at the left side of the plate is a
wave or vine pattern, which as a symbolic motif on the doorway
signifies the mystical anointment that occurs where the image and
the worshipper "cross" the threshold.'5 The deity at the bottom
of the pillar stands in a tribhanga (the three bends) position, wear-
ing a crown and holding attributes; at his feet stands an animal
which is undoubtedly his vehicle (vahana). Comparison of this
standing figure unit with those which are shown on the face of the
columns in the foreground of Figure C shows a striking similarity
between them. On the columns the figures are contained within a
framework which is exactly duplicated on the museum's piece.
Note especially the distinctive comma-like design carved into the
pointed crown of the niche and the similarity of the ringed columns
flanking the main standing figure, topped as they are by a rec-
tangular shape containing a diamond design. The standing female
attendants are not to be found on the large columns in the temple,
14. Other examples of Jain door jambs may be seen in Kramrisch, Art of
India, plates 133 and 134.
15. For a discussion of the symbolic meaning of the temple's doorway see
Kramrisch, The Hindu Temple, II, 313-322.
but are in evidence on either side of the cell's door frame as they
evolve from a group of figures on the walls. In the museum's piece
the attending figures are broken, but to the deity's extreme right
can be seen the remains of a leg poised outward toward the edge.
This direction in which the attending figures face indicates that
the jamb was located to the right as one faces the cell. Conclusive
evidence is found in the small female figures kneeling in a worship-
ful attitude at the top and on either side of the niche's ornate crown.
They face reverently to the left, the direction of the cell and the
image of the tirthankara.
Hindu deities were accepted and used by Jains as representing
an aspect of earthly karma and as beings of a lower spiritual order
aspiring to the perfection of the tirthankaras. So it is not strange
to see them used quite profusely in Jain temple sculpture. The
identity of the standing god on this piece is obscure, even though
his hands hold a drum and a possible club. This would normally
indicate that the image is that of the lord Siva, but since the other
attributes are missing and the animal vehicle (vahana) at his feet
is broken, the identity cannot be positive. It will suffice to say that
he is a god and that he is performing the service of an attendant
or doorkeeper (dvdrapala) in the old yaksa tradition which has
already been observed on the tirthankara images.
Judging by the above mentioned similarities between the muse-
um's piece and the work in the Rsabhanatha temple at Mt. Abli,
which was consecrated in 1031,16 it is suggested that the piece is
a door jamb from a Jain temple in southwest Rajputana and dates
from the eleventh or twelfth centuries.
The museum's last Jain sculpture also comes from western India
and is a small and worn white marble figure of the lotus goddess
Plate 7 Shri-Lakshmi (Plate 7). She is the universal mother, wife of Vishnu
and the life-bestowing, benevolent goddess of prosperity and good
fortune. "She presides over the fertility and moisture of the soil
and over the jewels and precious metals in the womb of the
earth."17 Seated in a lotus position, she is shown here with four
arms. Her lower right hand rests on her right leg, palm out,
in the traditional varada-mudrd, or bestowing gifts, while her lower
left hand holds what appears to be a jug, another symbol of
16. See Zimmer, Art of Indian Asia, II, 416, notes to plates 390, 391.
17. Zimmer, Art of Indian Asia, I, 158.
From her two raised hands hang broken lotus stems whose blos-
soms are completely missing. On either side of the goddess' head
a platform supports an elephant with upraised trunk sprinkling her
with the life-giving fertilizing waters. This rite of anointment is
known as abhiseka, and because of the presence of the elephants
(gajas) we can identify this aspect of the deity as Gaja-Lakshmi.xs
Her head supports what was once an elaborately pointed crown of
several layers, and her ear ornaments (obscured by shadow in the
photograph) with heavy rounded ends hang almost to her shoul-
ders. A necklace loops over her ample breasts and a pendant ap-
pears between them. The depth of the carving testifies to the fact
that the work was most elaborate and detailed before it became so
broken and worn away.
The throne is difficult to make out, but the broken detail of an
elephant's head directly in its center is perceptible. To either side
of the elephant's head is seen a series of small three-layered nubs,
possibly the vague remains of a lotus throne, the usual symbol of
the lotus goddess. On the extreme sides and at the knees of Lakshmi
can barely be discerned seated figures in worshipful attitudes.
One might be tempted to identify the central figure as the river
goddess Sarasvati whose "images are sometimes hardly distinguish-
able from those of Shri-Lakshmi,"'9 especially since the stylistic
resemblance between this figure and that of a twelfth-century im-
age of Sarasvati being saluted by the two architects of the Vimala
Vasahi at Mt. Abi (Figure D) is so remarkable. The chief differ- Figure D
ences between the two figures are that in the Mt. Abui figure the
goddess' left hand holds a palm-leaf manuscript, her right a stylized
lotus blossom, and her right leg drops down from the throne. Other
iconographic details, including the stiff, rigid style, are the same.
A similar and more significant image of Lakshmi surmounts the
door frame of a side chapel in the Neminitha temple at Mt. Abu
(Figure E).20 Judging by the apparent scale of the photograph, Figure E
the museum's figure and the image over the cell of the doorway
18. See Zimmer, Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization, pp.
102-109, for a discussion of elephants and their symbolic relation to fertility.
19. Ibid., pp. 109-110.
20. "In many mediaeval temples, specially of Orissa, this motif is often
described as Gaja-Lakshmi, was carved in the center of the archtrave over
the doorway of the main structure, whatever might have been the cult affilia-
tion of the shrines."-Banerjea, Development of Hindu Iconography, p. 875.
are comparable in size and iconography. Here is the pointed and
layered crown, the lower right hand performing the varada-mudrd,
the left supporting the jug; the two stylized lotus blossoms sup-
ported by the raised hands explain the broken stems held by the
upright hands in the museum's image. Even the mysterious three-
layered nubs come into focus and become recognizably clear, as
do the pendant and necklace over the breast. Only the elephants
above the goddess and on the throne are missing, or perhaps are
hidden from view as were those in the museum's piece before the
lotuses were broken away.
It can be concluded, then, that the museum's image is a Jain
sculpture of the goddess Gaja-Lakshmi from southwestern Rajpu-
tana and dates from the twelfth or thirteenth century.
By the seventh century Buddhism was waning in the land of its
birth, but in the monasteries of Bihar and Bengal there lingered
a variant form of Mahayana Buddhism. This Tantric Buddhism, as
it was called, came to an end in India in 1199 when NilandS and
the other great centers of Buddhist learning were destroyed by the
iconoclastic Moslems who raged down the Ganges Valley. It is
from this last era of Buddhist activity, known as the Pala period
(760-1142), that the Ringling Museum's next two works come.
Both works are Buddha figures in the famous seated pose of
calling the earth to witness (bhftmi-sparga-mudrd), and each has
suffered mutilation, presumably at the hands of the Moslems. De-
faced in every detail, but the more complete, is the green-gray
piece displaying seven of the eight great events in the Buddha's
Plate 10 life (Plate 10). The central and dominant figure is that of the Bud-
dha seated upon a lotus pedestal supported by a high and simple
throne. On the throne in Devanagari script is carved a mantra,
which is frequently found on Buddhist images of this period.21
In front of this inscription and at the very base of the throne are
two smaller Buddhas seated in the bhfimi-sparga-mudra pose of the
large central image.
Directly behind the large central Buddha is a niche carved in a
very low and stylized relief of circles and concave squares sur-
21. I am indebted to Professor W. Norman Brown of the University Penn-
sylvania for the following translation of this mantra.
The states of being which arise from a basis-
Their basis the Tathdgata has told;
And their cessation-this the Great Monk tells.
P1. 1.-"The Presentation of the Four Bowls." Buddhist, Gandhara, c. III century. Gray
schist, slightly convex, 8" x 17". Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota.
P1. 2.-"The Bodhisattva Maitreya." Buddhist, Gandhara, c. III century. Gray
schist, 91/ x 13", Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota.
P1. 3.-A vertical relief displaying two events from the life of the Buddha. Top,
"The Buddha Converting the Yaksha Atvika(?)"; bottom, "The Buddha Accept-
ing the Casteless Girl as a Nun(?)." Buddhist, Gandhara, c. III century. Gray
schist, 17" x 11", Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota.
MAW. 4'c i^'p
P1. 4.-Figures in adoration, a fragment from a "First Sermon." Buddhist, Hoti-
Mardan, Gandhara, III-IV century, Gray schist, 111/" x 11", Ringling Museum
of Art, Sarasota.
P1. 5.-"Tirthankara. Jain, Mathura, IV-V century. Red sandstone, 28" x 23",
Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota.
PI. 6.-Fragment of a plinth. Buddhist, Malakand Pass, Gand-
hara, c. III century. Gray schist, 51/2" x 41/2", Ringling Museum
of Art, Sarasota.
Pi. 7.-Goddess Gaja-Lakshmi. Jain, southwest Rajputana, XII-
XIII century. White marble, 18" x 13 2", Ringling Museum of
P1. 8.-"The Tirthankara Rsabhanatha." Jain, Mathura or central India,
c. XI-XII century. Red sandstone, 42" x 23", Ringling Museum of
P1. 9.-Fragment of a temple dooi
jamb. Jain, southwest Rajputana, XI-
XII century. White marble, 481/4 x
13", Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota.
P1. 10.-A Buddha of the events displaying the bhhmi-sparsa-mudra. Buddhist,
Bengal or Bihar, Pala period, c. X century. Green chlorite, 19" x 111/", Ringling
Museum of Art, Sarasota.
Pl. 11.-A Buddha in bhumi-sparsa-mudrd. Buddhist, Bihar, Pala period, c. X
century. Black carboniferous shale, 151/2" x 13", Ringling Museum of Art,
INDIAN SCULPTURE IN THE
JOHN AND MABLE RINGLING
MUSEUM OF ART
by Roy C. Craven, Jr.
University of Florida Monographs
No. 6, Winter 1961
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA PRESS / GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA
T. WALTER HERBERT, Chairman
Professor of English
Professor of Art
CHARLES W. MORRIS
Professor of Philosophy
C. A. ROBERTSON
Professor of English
MELVIN E. VALK
Associate Professor of German
COPYRIGHT, 1961, BY THE BOARD OF
COMMISSIONERS OF STATE INSTITUTIONS OF FLORIDA
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
CATALOGUE CARD No. 61-63517
PRINTED BY THE BULKLEY-NEWMAN PRINTING COMPANY
Pl. 12.-The Lord Bhairava. Hindu, southern RIjputdna, X-XI cen-
tury. Red sandstone, 37%," x 21", Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota.
P1. 13.-A Saivite group. Hindu, Rajputana, c. XII century. Cream sandstone.
23%-" x 15/4", Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota.
P1. 14.-The Goddess Durga. Hin-
du, Rajputana, c. late XVIII cen-
tury. Cream sandstone with some
red pigment clinging to the god-
dess' right arms, 53/2" x 16"1/,
Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota.
P1. 15.-An architectural fragment with a niche containing a stand-
ing figure of Buddha subduing the maddened elephant (seen to the
left at his feet). Buddhist, Pala period, Bihar, c. X century. Black
stone, 104" x 17", Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota.
P1. 16.-An architectural fragment with a niche containing a standing figure of Buddha.
He displays the varada-mudrd to a small worshiping figure at his feet. Buddhist, Pala
period, Bihdr, c. X century. Gray-green stone, 71/2" x 15", Ringling Museum of Art,
P1. 17.-A badly worn image of giva. Hindu, Rajputana, c. XIII-XIV
century. Marble, 201/4" x 91/2", Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota.
Fig. A.-"Shrine of the Wheel of the Law" (adoration of the
Buddha who is symbolized by a wheel). Buddhist, Bharhut, cen-
tral India, c. II century B. c. Red sandstone, 187/" x 20%4", Freer
Gallery of Art, Washington.
Fig. B.-"Tirthankara Neminatha." Jain, Ma-
thura, central India, medieval period. Red
sandstone, h. 531/2". Photo courtesy the Arch-
aeological Museum, Mathura.
h ~Bsl ---^ -------- -----8b
Fig. C.-Interior view of Vimala Sha's temple to Rsabhanatha at Mt. Abfi. Jain,
Gujarat, India, consecrated 1031. White marble. Photo after Zimmer, The Art
of Indian Asia.
Fig. D.-The Goddess Sarasvati saluted by the two
architects who built the Vimala Vasahi temple. Mt. Abiu,
Jain, south Rajputana, XII century. White marble, 41/'
diameter. Photo after Kramrisch, The Art of India.
Fig. E.-Side chapel, Tejahpala's tem-
ple to Neminatha at Mt. Abi. Jain,
southwest Rajputana, 1232. White mar-
ble. Photo after Zimmer, The Art of
Fig. F.-A Buddha (Bodhisattva) image displaying the eight miracles. Buddhist,
Bengal, Pdla period, X-XI century. Black slate, h. 17%", Rijksmuseum voor
d ~; ~'R
h Y~Y~~ g~i~r'w (~~4:rr
'i . 9~')8 ~
rr ..-. ?
Fig. G.-A couple of male Dvarapalas on the second
small shrine at Chandravati. Hindu, Kotah, south
central Rajputdna, VII-VIII century. After photo by
D. H. Sahiar, Marg Magazine, XII (March, 1959),
40, Plate 3.
Fig. H.-A group of celestial figures from the upper
tiers of the main temple in Ramgarh. Hindu, Kotah,
south central Rajputana, early medieval. After photo
by D. H. Sahiar in Marg Magazine, XII (March,
1959) 65, Plate 2.
Fig. I.-A sculptural group. Hindu, Bundelkhand?, central India,
X-XII century. Cream sandstone, h. ? Photo courtesy Museum of
Fine Arts, Boston.
Fig. J.-A Uma-Maheivara group. Hindu, Pallfi, Rij-
putana, XI-XII century. h. 23" x 15 /2", Bikaner Muse-
um, India. Photo after Goetz, The Art and Architecture
of Bikaner State.
Fig. K.-The Devali of Mandala Rimanalota. Hindu, Savunda, Bikaner,
1505. Bikaner Museum, India. Photo after Goetz, The Art and Architecture of
Fig. L.-A Dipa-Lakshmi (lampbear-
er) figure. Hindu, Gujarat, late XVII
century. Brass, h. 141/2". Courtesy of
Baroda Museum, India.
Fig. M.-A Dipa-Lakshmi (lamp-
bearer) figure. Hindu, Gujarat, c.
XVIII century. Brass, Prince of Wales
Museum, Bombay, India. Photo after
Kramrisch, The Art of India.
mounted above by a halo of dots and flames. At the zenith of the
halo are three stylized leaves representing the Bo-tree under which
the enlightenment occurred. Around the edge of the background
slab, circling the Buddha, are seven units in relief containing
events from his life. Supported by lotus pedestals and ringed by
dot patterns, these units are small duplicates of the larger sculptural
unit. The only exception is the event at the top which shows the
death, or parinirvdna, of the Buddha. The small seated figure at
the feet of the recumbent Buddha is his chief disciple, Ananda.
On either side of this event are clouds containing a pair of celestial
hands. The hands to the right hold cymbals and the ones to the
left beat a drum. The cymbals and the drum represent universal
rhythm (the pulse of creation) and sound (the vehicle of speech
and the conveyor of revelation). These two symbols may be inter-
preted to stand for the divine truth of the law (dharmd) personi-
fied by the Buddha.
The work is similar to the Pdla image of the same subject in
the Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde, Leiden (Figure F). The chief Figure F
iconographic difference is that the Leiden image shows the
Buddha with a crown and jewels, or as a bodhisattva, while
the Ringling Museum's figure is a true Buddha in monastic garb.
The Ringling figure is decorated only by the nubbed pattern of
shorn hair on his head and a ushnisha, or protuberance, at the top
of the skull; his simple throne contrasts vividly with the lion-throne
at the base of the Leiden image.
The eight events described on the Leiden image, clockwise from
the lower left, are:
(1) The nativity,
(2) the first sermon,
(3) the descent from the Trayastrimsa heaven,
(4) the death or parinirvdna,
(5) the taming of the maddened elephant,
(6) the miracle of Srivasti,
(7) the monkey's offering, and
(8) the central and dominant scene of the enlightenment. On
either side of the parinirvana, at the top, are seated two large
Other than the elaborate headdress, the most important differ-
ence between the Ringling Museum's work and the Leiden image
is the arrangement and number of the events surrounding the
main figure. The nativity is completely missing from the Ringling
Museum's work, and in its place is a duplicate scene of the mon-
key's offering. This means that the piece displays only seven of
the eight great events. They are, clockwise from the lower left:
(1) the monkey's offering (note the monkey sculptured in low
relief just beneath the seated Buddha);
(2) the descent from the TrayastrimSa heaven (missing here,
but present in Figure F, is the figure of Indra holding an umbrella
over the Buddha's head);
(3) the preaching of the first sermon in the deer park at Benares
(on the base of the lotus pedestal is the wheel symbol [cakra] for
the law [dharmd] flanked by the seated figures of two deer)-the
Buddha above holds his hands in the dharmd-cakra-mudrd;
(4) the parinirvdna, or the great demise;
(5) the miracle of Sravasti (note the seated figure seated at the
base of the lotus pedestal);
(6) the taming of the maddened elephant (the elephant, as seen
in Plate 15, is the very small figure at the Buddha's feet);
(7) a duplicate scene of the monkey's offering; and
(8) the enlightenment (represented by the large central Buddha
figure in the bhitmi-sparsa-mudrd).
The two small Buddha figures at the base of the work might
also symbolize the miracle of Sravasti, but they could more likely
represent, along with the large central figure, the manifestation of
trikaya, or the three bodies of the Buddha.22 The use of only seven
events is hard to explain, especially with the nativity missing; and
the mystery is disturbing. One possible explanation might be, as
indeed the style suggests, that the main image of the Buddha was
carved by one sculptor, while the smaller events were executed by
another, a less competent craftsman. The sculptor of the events
then may have miscopied them from another image. This, of course,
is pure speculation.
Plate 11 The museum's second Pala image of the Buddha (Plate 11) is
carved from a hard black stone typical of works coming from
22. "One of the concepts of Mahayana Buddhism that finds its inevitable
reflexion in the iconography of that art is the trikuya, or Three Bodies of
Buddha. This triune division of the Buddha nature is, in a philosophical
sense, analogous to the Christian trinity. In this triune nature we have the
dharmakaya or 'Law Body' . the sambhogakaya or 'Body of Bliss' . and
the third body, the nirmanakaya or 'Noumenal Body.'" A footnote to this
sentence further points out that "the crowned and bejewelled Buddhas of
Pala-Sena times have been interpreted as representations of the body of bliss."
-Rowland, Art and Architecture of India, pp. 32-33, 258, n. 12.
Nalanda.23 The obdurate quality of the stone accounts for the fact
that the compact body was not more extensively damaged when
the background slab was broken away. All that remains of the
background is a small fragment above the image's right shoulder
which displays a portion of a nimbus or halo. The face of the image,
originally broken away, was recarved by an inept craftsman at a
The Buddha is again seen in the pose of bhiimi-sparga-mudrd and
his right hand, with the forefinger missing, is stretched out and
touching the lotus pedestal. This carving is from a more competent
hand than was evidenced in the previous Pala image. Here is a
refinement of form and a sensitiveness for realism in the detailing
that was less marked in the first Pala Buddha. Indeed it is this
very quality which marks the piece as distinctively Pala.
Commenting on the Pala style, Dr. B. Rowland makes the fol-
lowing observations. "Characteristic of the sculpture of the Pala
and Sena periods are the numerous examples of images carved in
hard, black stone found at Nalanda and many other sites in [Bihtr
and] Bengal. All of them are characterized by great finesse and
precision of execution. Many of these icons give the impression of
being stone imitations of metal-work, and in almost every case the
sense of plastic conception is lost under the intricacy of surface
detail." And, "The actual style of carving is a kind of desiccated
perpetuation of the Gupta school of the fifth and sixth centuries; in
it one is much more conscious of the precise and sharp definition of
the detail of jewelled ornaments than of the plastic significance of
the bodily form that seems to exist as a framework for these at-
Recognizing these facts and comparing the two images with the
work mentioned, it would seem that the first green-gray image, dis-
playing events from the Buddha's life and inscribed with a mantra,
is a Pala Buddha from Bengal or Bihar and dates from the tenth
century. The second Buddha is also a tenth century Pala work
carved in Bihar by a more skillful sculptor.
One of the terrifying aspects of Siva is the featured image of
the next work (Plate 12). He is carved on the face of a rectangular Plate 12
block of pink sandstone, which at one time possibly formed part
of a vertical buttress, from a Saivite temple. The figure stands be-
23. Coomaraswamy, Indian and Indonesian Art, p. 113.
24. Art and Architecture of India, p. 144.
tween two ringed columns which in turn are flanked high on either
side by a vertical relief of mythical animals. Below these reliefs
and at the feet of the image run two horizontal mouldings carved
across the front, behind the figure, and around the right corner of
the block. These mouldings, it can be assumed, ran throughout the
building as a unifying architectural device.
Plate 12A On the side of this block (Plate 12A) to the viewer's left and
above the center moulding is carved a flat elaborate column fea-
turing the traditional Hindu pot-foliage capital (ptrnakalaha).25
Directly beneath this column and under the moulding kneels a
four-armed figure of a gana, one of the departed souls who con-
stitute Siva's celestial army.26 With two arms he supports the
moulding and in turn the column above, while his lower right hand
holds a sword, and his left a shield. He wears a loincloth, brace-
lets, and a small necklace. The remainder of the vertical surface to
the left is set back from the plane of the column-gana unit and is
composed of a shallow and simply carved vine or wave motif, while
below the moulding is displayed a diamond-shaped flower with
On the front of the block the animal reliefs to either side of the
columns flanking the standing deity can be read from top to bot-
tom as a crocodile or sea monster (makara), a rampant lion (Mdr-
dila), and an elephant's head. The most important image of this
trio is the lion. He represents the eternal words of knowledge, and
elsewhere in Indian art supports by his regal and earth-penetrating
roar the thrones of the world saviors (the Buddhas and tirthan-
karas). Here the Mdrdfla dances upon the elephant's head of ig-
norance, while, above, the makara, symbolic of the powers of
waters, fearful and benign, blesses the triumph of knowledge over
ignorance by anointing the scene with life-giving fluid.27
The major figure, Bhairava, has four arms and stands with his
weight shifted slightly to his left leg. The god seems to be standing
upon an object or animal of some kind, but because of its broken
and worn condition its identity is impossible to ascertain. His up-
per right hand holds high the small "hour-glass" drum (damaru),
while his lower right arm extends rigidly down with its hand turned
25. For the historical and architectural significance of this capital design
see Fergusson, Indian and Far Eastern Architecture, I, 317-318.
26. These hosts are led by the elephant-headed son of Siva (See Plate 13).
27. For a discussion of the symbolic meanings of the sdrdila and the
makara see Kramrisch, Hindu Temple, II, 322-331.
in and finger extended to support an obscure object which might
be either a throwing disc (cakra) or a bowl made from a skull
(bhiksdaptra). A staff or club (khatvdnga) displaying a small
round skull and topped by a trident (tribisla) is held aloft by the
upper left hand, while the deity's lower left hand holds a lotus
blossom to his chest. This blossom symbolizes the lingam, or phal-
lus, the major symbol of the lord Siva, and the lotus itself is the
symbol par excellence of eternal generation. On the lord's wrists,
upper arms, and ankles are simple bracelets, and across his chest
hang several necklaces. He supports from his waist a girdle which
shows in high relief between his legs. A garland of human skulls
(asthibishana) drops from the shoulders, twines through his arms,
and loops across his legs just below the knees. The head, whose
features have mostly been worn away, is surmounted by a high
crown of matted hair (fata-makuta), and two ear ornaments hang
down and rest on the god's shoulders.
Perhaps the most distinguishing feature of this image is its large
head, whose size can be explained, possibly, by the iconographic
canon which requires the images of Siva in his terrific aspects to
"have bulging eyes, inflated cheeks, tusks, etc."28 Here it would
seem that not just the cheeks but the whole head has been "in-
flated" to enhance its demonic aspect. And even though the fea-
tures of the face are lacking, two strong cavities or intentions can
be discerned at the extreme corners of the mouth. These could pos-
sibly indicate the past presence of a grimace or the prescribed tusks
or fangs. The shadowy forms of the eyes also suggest a bulging that
would further confirm the identity of Bhairava.29
There can be little doubt that the figure comes from the face of
a temple, and this origin is even further suggested by small frag-
ments of plaster, flaked in layers, still clinging to the carved re-
cesses deep in the stone. The practice of washing whole temples
with a gesso-like plaster was widespread, and "the calm radiance
28. Ibid., p. 330, n. 96.
29. For some descriptions of deities in paintings allied to music see Gangoly,
Ragas & Raginis, pp. 106-107, 111, 113. Professor Gangoly translates (p. 111)
from the RAGA-MALA text by Mesakarna (1509) a description of Bhairava
which is most appropriate to our image: "White in complexion, clad in white,
carrying the crescent and the horn, and wearing a garland, Bhairava is born
from the mouth of Siva, and carries the poison on his neck and his eyes are
red. He (also) carries the trident, the skull, and the lotus, and wears jewelled
pendants on his two ears and matted locks. This (melody) is sung by the gods
in the morning in Autumn."
of the white temples is extolled in inscriptions."30 The temple was
a "world-mountain" and the attribute of a white, shimmering snow-
like quality was in keeping with the abode of the gods (himalaya,
the abode of snow).
The style of the work, a medieval piece, is quite different from
the great masterwork found on the temples of Khajuraho. But Dr.
Kramrisch in discussing some of the major characteristics of those
images describes a condition which is parallelled here: "Framed
however in their niches, each a small shrine, pillared and having
frequently a superstructure and roof of their own, the major divini-
ties are sheltered, each niche being a paradoxical massive-door in
which is beheld an aspect of the divinity of the temple."31 She
further states in a note to this paragraph that "In Khajuraho, how-
ever, the pillared niche with its canopy is a balcony-like projection
from its buttresses. That is the rule also in Rajputana, Gujarit,
A closer parallel in style, however, occurs in the early medieval
sculpture of the state of Kotah in southeastern Rajputana. The
Figure G images at Chandravati (Figure G) display the large head which is
seen in the museum's image, and at Rdmgarh the figures on the
Figure H upper tiers of the main temple (Figure H) illustrate a stage in "the
transition of the Khajuraho style to the more primitive but vital
chisel in the interior of Rajasthan."33 This identification of style very
well describes the museum's image of Bhairava.
Considering all the aspects above, it is probable that the muse-
um's figure is a temple sculpture of Bhairava, one of the terrific
forms of Siva, from southern Rajputana, and dates from the tenth
or the eleventh century.
A sculptural fragment displaying Saivite images is the next work
Plate 13 from central India (Plate 13). Carved from buff sandstone this
small medieval masterpiece shows four figures, three standing and
one kneeling. The two standing images to the left are the "mind
born" children of the lord Siva and his consort Pirvati. The third
is probably an attending yaksa, while the kneeling figure is most
likely that of a female donor.
30. Kramrisch, Hindu Temple, I, 123.
31. Ibid., II, 318.
32. Ibid., n. 49.
33. D. S., "Medieval Sculpture, #12: Ramgarh," Marg Magazine, XIII,
(March, 1959), 65.
The gods feared the offspring of such a terrible union as that of
Siva and Parvati and requested of Siva that he have no children.
This he agreed to without informing Parvati, and she, when told,
was so enraged that she cursed the wives of the other gods to a
similar state. Therefore all the children of the gods are referred to
as being "mind born."
The figure to the extreme left, with an elephant's head, is that of
Ganesa who, according to one legend was created out of clay by
Parvati.34 Siva, not knowing the boy's identity, later beheaded him,
and as the head was severed from Ganesa's body, it shot up into
the sky and disappeared. Since it could not be recovered, Siva
decapitated a baby elephant who was nearby and placed its head
upon the body of Ganesa.35
Ganesa as the god of prudence and sagacity is seen in Indian
banks, shops, and libraries. Being the remover of obstacles, he is
propitiated before any undertaking, attached to the tops of letters,
and always saluted at the beginning of a book.
Here he wears a girdle, necklace, bracelets, head jewels, and
short pants, with a garland circling below his knees. The attribute
in his right hand is missing, but it was probably one of his tusks
which was broken off in a mythical battle.
GaneSa's vehicle (vdhana), a rat, is not shown here, but next to
him is his brother, the god of war Karttikeya, or Skanda, astride
his vdhana, a peacock.
The asura (demon) Taraka through penitence gained a boon
from Brahma which gave him not only power over the three worlds,
but over the gods as well. This boon granted him exemption from
death at the hand of all except the offspring of the celibate Siva.
After suffering many indignities under the demon, the gods at last
pleaded with Siva to produce such progeny. Thus it was that Kart-
tikeya was created, the first son of Siva, and seven days later the
scourge of the gods was dead.36
One legend tells of Karttikeya assuming six heads at birth in
order to be nursed by the Pleiades, but here we see him with only
three heads (the one on his left shoulder is obscured). He stands
34. "Ganesa-Lord (iSa) of the hosts (gana)." He is also known as
"Vighnesvara-Lord (uvara) of obstacles (vighna)."-Zimmer, Art of Indian
Asia, I, 46.
35. Thomas, Epics, Myths and Legends of India, pp. 24-25.
36. Ibid., pp. 26-27.
in a tribhanga pose and holds in his left hand a club-like weapon,
or a cauri. Under his right arm he holds a cock, another of his
symbols, whose head has been broken away and only the body
and tail feathers remain. A garland circles his body, and his other
ornaments include a necklace, a girdle, and heavy earrings. His
heads are dressed by high spiraling crowns or coiffures, while his
lower body is clothed only in short pants.
The third standing figure is possibly a yaksha, and he holds
what appears as a club rather than the usual cauri, or fly-whisk.
He, too, stands in the tribhanga pose which the sculptor utilized as
a device to unify the three vertical figures and give action to the
unit. In respect to ornaments and dress, he duplicates those of
the K~rttikeya figure and his jaws also display a slight broadening
which is "a characteristic later very common to the decadent phase
of medieval sculpture."37
On the extreme right of the thick base (common to all the fig-
ures) is a broken foot wearing an anklet. This is all that remains
of the large standing image which was the main subject of the
work. Because of the presence of the "children" of Siva and Par-
vati, it is fairly certain that the large figure was that of either their
mother or their father. As the base steps back with each of the
standing figures, it forms a plane of depth which evolved upward
into a niche or gateway (torna) to contain the large missing image.
This, when the work was unbroken, joined the quartet with an-
other group of attending figures on the right.
A sculptural fragment similar to this one is found in the Museum
of Fine Arts at Boston. It is thought to come from Bundelkhand
and dates in the period from the tenth to the twelfth century (Fig-
Figure I ure I). It, too, displays one kneeling and three standing figures,
and it formed the left side of a torna containing a large image. The
style of the carving, however, retains a hint of the rounded and
classical mode, which indicates that the Ringling Museum's piece
was executed later.
Figure I The Umi-MaheSvara Group from PallW (Figure J), now in the
Bikainr Museum, dates from the eleventh or twelfth century and
stylistically represents a closer parallel to the Ringling Museum
work. This is especially noticeable in the small three-headed figure
standing to the extreme left, which is identified by Dr. Goetz as
37. Goetz, Art and Architecture of Bikaner State, p. 87.
Brahma but which is more likely that of Karttikeya. Note particu-
larly the small figure's tribhanga pose, the squared jaw, and the
general sculptural style of the whole piece. Since the Ringling Mu-
seum's work is stylistically closer to this piece, it is suggested that
this Saivite fragment comes from Rajputina and dates from the
The "Great Mother" is not only the most ancient of deities, but
as Dr. Goetz has observed, her cult is the oldest still existing in
Rajputana.38 It is therefore appropriate that the last work from
RSjputana is a late image of the goddess Durga (Plate 14). This Plate 14
work displays scarcely a trace of the great sculptural idiom of the
medieval period, being closer in spirit to folk sculpture, but its
primitive and abstracted style is attractive to the contemporary eye.
Durga, known as KAli and Camunda in southern India, was
brought into being by the combined energies of the gods to aid
them in their battles against the asuras, or demons.39 As the fierce
and triumphant avenger of the gods, she here appears somewhat
benign, displaying only four arms rather than the seventeen be-
stowed upon her by the gods at her mythical creation.
If this aspect of the goddess were either Kali or Camunda, the
figure would appear much more hideous, with an emaciated body,
hollow cheeks, bulging eyes, and lolling tongue. But here the god-
dess stands at ease with just the slightest suggestion of the tribhan-
ga pose. She displays four braceleted arms, and two surprisingly
small discs high on her chest indicate her breasts. A necklace loops
between the breasts, and another circles her throat; a crown, simi-
lar to many found in late Mogul and Rajput paintings, is seen on
her large head. Anklets, ear ornaments, a girdle, a bodice, and
long pants complete her costume.
On the godess' forehead there is a horizontal mark and below it,
between her eyes, is a frnd; on each cheek there is a dot. On each
of her biceps is indicated a flower blossom which most likely rep-
resents a tatoo, since a similar flower can be seen on the right hand
which holds a trident. The other right hand holds a sword, and in
the two left hands she carries a snake and a bowl for blood or life-
giving nectar. Standing behind her at her feet is her vahana, a
primitively carved dog-like lion.
38. Ibid., p. 30.
39. "Durga, she who is difficult (dur) to go against (ga)."--Zimmer, Art
of Indian Asia, I, 90.
This less sophisticated piece is closely related to the productions
of folk art, and if it is compared with some works from Rajputana
and Gujarat, some interesting similarities will be seen.
Figure K Figure K shows a Devali, or memorial stone, for one of the
Bik~ner rajds. This piece dates from the early sixteenth century
and shows the radj on horseback, while before him stand three of
his queens, or ranis, who committed sati at his death. Although this
piece is quite worn, there is a strong resemblance between these
stiff images and the Durga figure. The oversize heads, the large
ear ornaments, and the long straight legs with high anklets suggest
the forms which later evolve in the museum's work. Similar me-
morial slabs are still being executed today in Rajputana and follow
the old and repetitive formulae.40
A little later in date and more western in provenance are two
brass figures of Dipa Lakshmi lampbearers from Gujarat (Figures
Figure L L and M). The older one (Figure L) is in the Baroda Museum
and dates from the late seventeenth century. It shows a family
likeness both to the sati figures on the stele and to the image of
Durga. Notice the shape of the head, especially the nose and mouth
areas, the small high breasts, and the exceedingly long straight
legs, skirt, and girdle. In the second lampbearer figure (Figure
Figure M M) occur the same general characteristics, which possess, however,
a more overt decorativeness. Notice especially the ears which dupli-
cate those of the Durga figure.
It must be remembered that these bronzes are much smaller than
the stone image and were cast by the cire-perdue method which
permits and encourages more ornamentation than does the more
obdurate stone. But these examples, along with the stele figures,
show the persistence of an image type in the folk mode of west
central India which is over a thousand years old, and it is from
this image that our Durga figure emanates.
Because of the strong resemblance between the Ringling Muse-
um's work and the sati figures on the stele and the bronzes from
western Gujarat, it may be surmised that the image of Durga is
not too modern, and an approximate date of the late eighteenth
century and a provenance of Rajputana are suggested.
40. Goetz, Art and Architecture of Bikaner State, p. 96.
3,500 B.C. Indus valley civilization,
c. 2,500-1,500 B.C.
1,500 B.C. Aryan invasion of India.
Destruction of the Indus
Vedic period, c. 1,500-800
500 B.C. Buddha, c. 563-483 B.C.
Mahavira, d. c. 468 B.C.
300 B.C. Alexander the Great
crossed the Indus river,
c. 321-297 B.C.
ASoka, c. 273-232 B.C.
Bharhut, Sanchi, 3rd cent.
B.C.-lst cent. of Christ.
100 B.C. Early Mathura.
Early Ajanta caves.
0 Beginnings of Gandharan
100 Mahayana Buddhism.
Kanishka, Kusana King,
300 Chandragupta I,
Gupta Art, 4th-7th cents.
White Huns invade India,
Ganddhra laid waste.
500 Medieval Indian Art, c.
c. 3,500-1,000 B.C.
Solomon, 10th century
Empire, 550-330 B.C.
Plato, 427?-347 B.C.
Empire, 305-64 B.C.
Trajan, Roman Emperor,
Rome falls, 476.
Mamallapuram, early 7th
Arab conquest of Sind,
Pdla Dynasty of Bengal
founded by Gopala,
Moslem conquest of north-
ern India, 1192-96.
N~land~ destroyed, 1199.
End of Buddhism in India.
Moghul Period, 1526-1857.
Rajput dynasties, 1500-
First Portuguese and
English in India.
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UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA MONOGRAPHS
No. 1 (Spring 1959): The Uncollected Letters of
James Gates Percival
Edited by Harry R. Warfel
No. 2 (Fall, 1959): Leigh Hunt's Autobiography
The Earliest Sketches
Edited by Stephen F. Fogle
No. 3 (Winter 1960): Pause Patterns in
Elizabethan and Jacobean Drama
By Ants Oras
No. 4 (Spring 1960): Rhetoric and American
Poetry of the Early National Period
By Gordon E. Bigelow
No. 5 (Fall 1960): The Background of
The Princess Casamassima
By W. H. Tilley
No. 6 (Winter 1961): Indian Sculpture in the
John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art
By Roy C. Craven, Jr.
INDIAN SCULPTURE IN THE JOHN & MABLE RINGING MUSEUM OF ART
University of Florida Press
Ga)in rilc F lri;da
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