The Goddess Uma

Detail of a pattern
Image 1 of 4

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At A Glance

  • Period

    10th century
  • Geography

  • Material

  • Dimension

    H x W x D: 124.2 x 37.5 x 24.3 cm (48 7/8 x 14 3/4 x 9 9/16 in)
  • Accession Number



Object Details

  • Description

    Cambodia, 10th century
    Gift of Arthur M. Sackler
    Arthur M. Sackler Gallery S1987.909
    The Power of the Feminine
    Khmer artists depicted the goddess Uma with regal stability. Here, she stands facing fully forward, her body neither twisting nor bending. Her long skirt (sampot) creates a strong columnar base. At the same time, her bare chest, pinched waist, and broad hips emphasize her femininity and fertility. Although the artists left upper bodies bare—as was conventional in Khmer dress—look for intricate designs on the headdress and belt. These patterns are inspired by nature, including leaves and flowers.
    Over time, artists modified details of sculptural style, including bodily proportions, facial features, ornaments, and pleats in clothing. Uma’s heavy breasts and straight brow, and the skirt’s wide upper flap, suggest a date of circa 900–925 for this sculpture.
  • Provenance

    ?-at least 1972
    Probably William H. Wolff, Inc., method of acquisition unknown [1]
    From at least 1972-1987
    Arthur M. Sackler (1913-1987), probably purchased from William H. Wolff, Inc. [2]
    From 1987
    Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, gift of Dr. Arthur M. Sackler [2]
    [1] See the “Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Gift Inventory,” number 72.11.13, copy in object file. This collection number suggests that Sackler acquired the object in 1972.
    Arthur M. Sackler likely purchased from William H. Wolff, Inc., see document written on William H. Wolff letterhead, “Dr. Sackler Selection” (undated), stock number 02/343, where an object is described as “White [s]andstone Khmer UMA 11th [cent.],” copy in object file.
    [2] See note 1.
    [3] Pursuant to the agreement between Dr. Arthur M. Sackler and the Smithsonian Institution, dated July 28, 1982, legal title of the donated objects was transferred to the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery on September 11, 1987.
    Research updated October 17, 2022
  • Collection

    Arthur M. Sackler Collection
  • Exhibition History

    Power in Southeast Asia (October 14, 2017 to March 13, 2020)
    Sculpture of South Asia and the Himalayas (November 19, 1992 to July 9, 2017)
  • Previous custodian or owner

    William H. Wolff, Inc. (1906-1991)
    Dr. Arthur M. Sackler (1913-1987)
  • Origin

  • Credit Line

    Gift of Arthur M. Sackler
  • Type

  • Restrictions and Rights

    Usage Conditions Apply

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