Yogini

Goddess seated cross-legged carved in high relief on a rounded granite slab. Goose vahana carved in light relief on base. She holds a winnower (a basketlike apparatus for separating chaff from grain), a small broom, and a skull cup in three hands, and her forth hand touches her breast in a pose signifying self-absorbtion. She wears a tall crown, one crocodilian and one cobra earring, and her hair is loose behind her head.

Historical period(s)
Chola dynasty, 10th century
Medium
Stone (metagabbro)
Dimensions
H x W x D: 116 x 76 x 43.2 cm (45 11/16 x 29 15/16 x 17 in)
Geography
India, Tamil Nadu state, Kaveripakkam
Credit Line
Gift of Arthur M. Sackler
Collection
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
S1987.905
On View Location
Sackler Gallery 26a: Gods, Companions, and Devotees
Classification(s)
Sculpture, Stone
Type

Figure

Keywords
Chola dynasty (850 - 1280), goose, Hinduism, India, WWII-era provenance, yogini
Provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable
Description

Goddess seated cross-legged carved in high relief on a rounded granite slab. Goose vahana carved in light relief on base. She holds a winnower (a basketlike apparatus for separating chaff from grain), a small broom, and a skull cup in three hands, and her forth hand touches her breast in a pose signifying self-absorbtion. She wears a tall crown, one crocodilian and one cobra earring, and her hair is loose behind her head.

Inscription(s)

On reverse of sculpture at lower right corner, in red paint (?): L68.13.31
On reverse of sculpture at center right, in black pigment: 2

Label

This four-armed Hindu goddess is a yogini, a female embodiment of yogic power. She once graced a temple with at least forty-two equally life-sized sculptures of yoginis set in niches around a central courtyard.
Yoginis are both benign and ferocious. This sculpture’s gracefully swaying posture, full breasts, and gentle smile, as well as the threshing tools in her upper hands, reveal that she confers blessings. In contrast, her unbound hair (a marker of female wrath), fangs, and skull cup (for drinking blood or liquor) indicate that she can be very dangerous if approached in the wrong way. Lightly incised into the pedestal is a duck, which indicates the goddess belongs to the class of flying yoginis known as sky travelers (khechari).

Published References
  • Padma Kaimal. Seductive and Repulsive: The Deceptive Contrasts of a South Indian Goddess. vol. 36, no.1, Summer/Fall 2003. .
  • Introduction by Dr. John Alexander Pope. An Exhibition of the Sculpture of Greater India, a Fully Illustrated Catalogue. Exh. cat. New York. cat. 38.
  • et al. Asian Art in the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery: The Inaugural Gift. Washington, 1987. cat. 28, p. 64-65.
  • Thomas Lawton, Thomas W. Lentz. Beyond the Legacy: Anniversary Acquisitions for the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. vol. 1 Washington, 1998. p. 108.
Collection Area(s)
South Asian and Himalayan Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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