Female figure (Primary Title)

Unknown (Artist)

18th-19th century
Indian or Sri Lankan
ivory, traces of pigment, semiprecious stones, wire
South India or Sri Lanka
Overall (without base): 10 1/8 × 3 1/8 × 3 1/2 in. (25.72 × 7.94 × 8.89 cm)
Overall (with base): 10 7/8 × 3 1/8 × 4 in. (27.62 × 7.94 × 10.16 cm)
2009.5
This figure’s stiff pose recalls Sri Lankan ivories of courtly figures, but her lack of an upper garment is unusual. The bound shape of her breasts suggests that she once wore a removable bodice above her carved skirt and sash, which bear traces of red paint. Her stylized body contrasts with her subtly modeled face and exquisitely rendered hair, which is pulled into a long braid fashioned from a separate piece of ivory. The circular holes in her earlobes originally held jeweled metal earplugs while smaller holes in her ears and nose accommodated other ornaments; and she was probably also adorned with necklaces, bracelets, and anklets. She was likely one of a pair of male and female figures, a popular thematic type throughout South Asia’s “ivory belt” of Orissa, South India, and Sri Lanka. Such figures probably represented idealized mortals, perhaps a king and queen, rather than deities.
Friends of Indian Art and Drs. Shantaram and Sunita Talegaonkar
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

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