Couple (Primary Title)

Unknown (Artist)

18th century
ivory, with traces of pigment
possibly Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India
Overall (female): 10 1/8 × 3 1/2 × 3 3/8 in. (25.72 × 8.89 × 8.57 cm)
Overall (male): 10 5/8 × 3 1/2 × 3 1/2 in. (26.99 × 8.89 × 8.89 cm)
Figures like these have been identified as idealized portraits of Nayaka kings and queens, but they may simply represent happy and prosperous couples. Carved in the round and presented in more formalized poses, they resemble the amorous couples on the nearby ivory panel. The smooth surfaces of their voluptuous bodies contrast with the intricately carved details of their heavy jewelry. Vibrant red and green paint, traces of which remain, would once have minimized this disparity. The taller male figure, his hair tied up in a cap, holds a lotus bud and a jewel-encrusted dagger. His consort also carries a lotus bud. Her body’s graceful curves are accentuated by the elaborately ornamented braid that undulates down her back and the outward splay at the bottom of her long, clinging skirt.
Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund
Dye, Joseph M. The Arts of India: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. London: Philipp Wilson, 2001. (cat. no. 60, pp. 171-172)
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

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