Plaque Depicting a Male (Primary Title)

Unknown (Artist)

ca. 200-50 BC
red terracotta
probably Mathura vicinity, Uttar Pradesh, India
Overall: 4 1/4 × 1 5/8 × 1 in. (10.8 × 4.13 × 2.54 cm)
(Together with 92.15)
Made by baking clay that had been pressed into a prepared mold, terra-cotta plaques were produced in great numbers in India's Ganges Valley during the Shunga period. How they were used is not clear, but many depicted standingfemale figures like the fragmentary example here. She wears a flamboyant headdress, large earrings, necklaces, and bracelets. Scarves are draped over her arms, and a lower garment with many folds is girded around her waist. Her left hand rests onher hip, while the other holds some object at shoulder level.

Plaques depicting male figures were also produced, though fewer survive. The example here is no less fashionably dressed than his female counterpart. He wears an extravagant turban,large plug earrings, necklaces, and a beaded girdle, or belt. His arms are positioned much like hers, and a long scarf falls from them in folds at his sides. These sculptures are badly worn. Originally, however, their surfaces would have been intricately detailed. Shunga-period sculptors worked in a highly descriptive and precise manner.
Shunga period
Written on reverse of head: "6"; faint traces of writing evident in lower right area along with "71753/2/14/81" on reverse. Written on adhesive sticker at botton of mount: "V.M.F.A. / Richmond".
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Edward W. M. Bryant
Dye, Joseph M. The Arts of India: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. London: Philipp Wilson, 2001. (cat. no. 6, p. 88)
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

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