Surya (Primary Title)

Unknown (Artist)

9th century
Indian
gray phyllite
possibly Munger District, North Bihar, India
Overall: 36 1/2 × 19 1/2 × 6 1/2 in. (92.71 × 49.53 × 16.51 cm)
68.8.14
A stele, or slab, that could easily fit into the niche of a temple wall, this sculpture shows Surya surrounded by his full entourage. The sun god's seven horses appear on the work's pedestal, as if the heavy base itself is the chariot they pull toward the viewer. Above the central horse is a small seated figure of Surya's charioteer Aruna, behind whom stands the sun god's wife Ushas, the Dawn. Flanking him are additional personalities from his retinue, including garland-bearing celestials andfigures that elaborate upon Surya's role in the keeping of time. Though the god's arms are now broken, they originally held the stems of lotuses, the open flowers of which appear near his shoulders. The ends of a scarf that flutter from this bentarms suggest the rapid movement of Surya's chariot.
Nasli and Alice Heeramaneck Collection, Gift of Paul Mellon
Dye, Joseph M. The Arts of India: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. London: Philipp Wilson, 2001. (cat. no. 27, p. 125)
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

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