Celestial dancer

Historical period(s)
Hoysala dynasty, 12th century
Chloritic schist
H x W x D: 74.5 x 41.4 x 26 cm (29 5/16 x 16 5/16 x 10 1/4 in)
India, Karnataka state
Credit Line
Purchase -- funds provided by the Friends of Asian Arts
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view


apsara, dance, flower, Hoysala dynasty (1110 - 1327), India, music, WWII-era provenance

Nasli Heeramaneck, New York [1]

To 1996
Spink & Son Ltd., London, to 1996

From 1996
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, purchased from Spink & Son Ltd. in 1996


[1] According to provenance Remark 1 in the object record.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Nasli and Alice Heeramaneck
Spink & Son Ltd.


Exuberant figures of female dancers and musicians, fashioned as decorative brackets, adorn the temples commissioned by the Hoysala monarchs (ca. 1047-1346) of the southern state of Karnataka. Known by the terms madanakai, or "epitomes of love," the celestial figures honored the enshrined god with their music and dance.

A passion for adornment, evident in every item of this dancer's rich jewlery, distinguishes the unmistakable Hoysala style. Her elaborate ornamentation complements the fluid treatment of her bodily form. Sculptors of chloritic schist must work rapidly, because the stone, which is soft and easily worked when freshly quarried, soon turns hard and brittle.

This bracket comes from the same Hoysala temples that featured the finely cut image of the elephant-headed god Ganesha, seen opposite. The two images together represent the balance between sacred and secular art that is so characteristic an ingredient of Indian art.

Collection Area(s)
South Asian and Himalayan Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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