Eastern Art Online, Yousef Jameel Centre for Islamic and Asian Art

Ashmolean − Eastern Art Online, Yousef Jameel Centre for Islamic and Asian Art

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Part of a door jamb with musicians and figures, possibly gods


    • currently in research collection

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Publications online

  • Indian Art in the Ashmolean Museum by J. C. Harle and Andrew Topsfield

    Indian Art in the Ashmolean Museum

    The doors through which the Indian temple are entered, and particularly the entrance to the garbha-gṛha containing the liṅga or the principle image of the shrine, have a specially important place in the multiple symbolism of the temple. Through them the worshipper, either in person or through the surrogate form of the priest, makes a final entrance into the realm of the unmanifest or the divine. In consequence, jambs, lintel, even the doorstop, are richly carved with reliefs of divinities, guardians and auspicious figures, each in their proper place and enclosed by multiple bands of parallel mouldings, sometimes of the greatest beauty, which frame the doorway.

    Here, in the rather simplified style characteristic of this late period, a male and female pair (mithuna) stands at the base in an emphasized flexed position. Since the man holds an emblem (difficult to identify), and the woman a lotus, they may in fact be gods. Above, musicians playing drums or cymbals are placed in small panels, each topped by a little triangular, the ultimate stylization of the caitya arch or gavākṣa [see EA1971.36]. The moulding running up beside the panels again represents the final reduction to the simplest terms of the splendid fan-palm mouldings of the Gupta period. The small figure with his hands pressed together in añjali, the gesture of worshipful respect, is a common feature. His snake-body, here not completed, would normally run up and across the lintel to meet its counterpart from the other doorway jamb, the tails often being held in the beak of Garuḍa, Viṣṇu’s bird vehicle.

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