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Marcel Nies

10. Parvati
India, Tamil Nadu, Vijayanagar 15th century
Bronze, cast in the lost wax method
Height 61 cm

Parvati is the archetypal mother goddess, gentle and nurturing, the ideal image of fertility, love and devotion. In the Hindu pantheon she is the consort of Shiva, personifying the power of realisation and transcendent knowledge. She is the remover of misfortune and the provider of the energy which destroys the world of illusion.

Parvati stands on a circular lotus pedestal, adopting the elegant and sensuous tribhanga or ‘thrice bent’ pose. Her raised right hand would originally have held an utpala lotus bud. Her dhoti is held in place by a jewelled hip band, and she wears a dazzling array of jewellery – earrings, necklaces, bracelets, anklets, rings and the sacred yagnopavita. The holes in the pedestal indicate that this bronze was intended to be carried in processions.

Emerging from Chola traditions, the art of Vijayanagar is characterized by its high level of casting and artistic conviction, and some bronzes of the period are among the finest works southern India produced. This image of Parvati bears typical characteristics of the Vijayanagar period: the flowers above the ears, the shape of the conical karandamukuta and meditation cords, the engraved patterns in the dhoti, the typical prominent nose and mouth, and the refined chiselling.

This large and graceful sculpture represents the goddess as an ideal beauty with full breasts, a narrow waist, and rounded hips, conforming to established systems of classic proportions. The piece is distinguished by the skilful and detailed casting of every element, each exquisitely rendered. Noteworthy are the convincing balance from whichever angle she is viewed, and the lively face, expressing extraordinary serenity; qualities found in only the finest bronze sculptures from South India.

Sotheby’s, London, 30th November 1983.
Kunsthandel J. Polak, the Netherlands, 1983-1984.
Private collection, the Netherlands, 1984-2016.

Sotheby’s, London, 30th November 1983, lot 303.
Delft-36e Oude Kunst - en Antiekbeurs, Museum Het Prinsenhof, 17 October- 4 November 1984, p. 108.

Delft-36e Oude Kunst - en Antiekbeurs, Museum Het Prinsenhof, 17 October - 4 November 1984.

C. Sivaramamurti, South Indian Bronzes, New Delhi, 1963, fig. 80b.
T.A. Gopinatha Rao, Elements of Hindu Iconography, volume 2, part I, Delhi, 1968, fig. 17.

Detail: alternate view
all text, images © Marcel Nies
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