Surya (Primary Title)

Unknown (Artist)

19th century
honey-colored sandstone with traces of pigment
Rajasthan, India
Overall: 26 1/4 × 37 1/2 × 7 1/2 in. (66.68 × 95.25 × 19.05 cm)
Overall (with stand): 32 × 37 1/2 × 7 1/2 in. (81.28 × 95.25 × 19.05 cm)
This charming sandstone relief depicts the Hindu sun god Surya riding in his celestial chariot. He is pulled through the sky by seven horses, representing the days of the week, and dynamically rendered as a receding arc of heads emerging from a single body. Driving these horses and preceding Surya's appearance is his charioteer Aruna, a Sanskrit word meaning the color of the rising sun. More pictorial than many images of Indian deities, this relief may have once formed part of a longer narrative. Even in his bubble of fiery rays, the sun god is presented here less as a remote cosmic deity than as a local leader who might one day ride through an ordinary Indian village.
Robert A. and Ruth W. Fisher Fund and the Arthur and Margaret Glasgow Fund
Dye, Joseph M. The Arts of India: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. London: Philipp Wilson, 2001. (cat. no. 53, pp. 155-156)
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

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