Sneak Peek—When Stones Move: Journeys of the Tamil Yoginis

  • Sneak Peek—When Stones Move: Journeys of the Tamil Yoginis Event Image


    Tuesday, May 9, 2023
    12:00 pm - 12:40 pm


Register here.

What happens to stone sculptures in India when they are separated from their original context? Follow the multiple journeys of a group of goddesses called yoginis from their temple, which no longer exists, to a bustling South Indian city and onward to museum collections on three continents. In this richly illustrated talk, Emma Natalya Stein, assistant curator of South Asian and Southeast Asian art, will reveal a recently discovered yogini—not in a museum but in a local Tamil shrine—and give a sneak peek into plans for an exhibition that seeks to reunite this important group of goddesses. 

This talk is part of the monthly lunchtime series Sneak Peek: New Research from the National Museum of Asian Art, where staff members present brief, personal perspectives and ongoing research, followed by discussion. This year, the series focuses on the theme of journeys—those that works of art depict and those they have undergone—in the collections of the National Museum of Asian Art. 

Emma Natalya Stein (PhD, Yale) joined the National Museum of Asian Art’s curatorial staff in 2019. Her exhibitions include Revealing Krishna: Journey to Cambodia’s Sacred Mountain, Prehistoric Spirals: Earthenware from Thailand, Power in Southeast Asia, and The Art of Knowing in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Himalayas. Emma has published articles on topics including yoginis, temple networks, and water’s edge urbanism, and her monograph, Constructing Kanchi: City of Infinite Temples, was featured on the New Books in Indian Religions podcast (May 2022). Emma’s research is grounded in fieldwork in South Asia and Southeast Asia, where she documents and maps monuments in diverse landscapes. 

India, Tamil Nadu state, late 9th–mid-10th century 
Metagabbro stone 
Gift of Arthur M. Sackler, Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, S1987.905 
Image credit: National Museum of Asian Art, Smithsonian Institution