Queen Sembiyan Mahadevi as the Goddess Parvati

citation

Historical period(s)
Chola dynasty, Reign of Queen Sembiyan Mahadevi, 10th century
Medium
Bronze
Dimensions
H x W x D: 107.3 x 33.4 x 25.7 cm (42 1/4 x 13 1/8 x 10 1/8 in)
Geography
India, Tamil Nadu
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Accession Number
F1929.84
On View Location
Freer Gallery 01: Body Image: Arts of the Indian Subcontinent
Classification(s)
Metalwork, Sculpture
Type

Figure

Keywords
casting, Chola dynasty (850 - 1280), India, kataka mudra, Parvati, queen, Uma
Provenance

To 1929
Hagop Kevorkian (1872-1962), New York to 1929 [1]

From 1929
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Hagop Kevorkian, New York in 1929 [2]

Notes:

[1] Object file, undated folder sheet note. See also Freer Gallery of Art Purchase List file, Collections Management Office.

[2] See note 1.

Previous Owner(s)

Hagop Kevorkian 1872 - 1962

Label

Chola queen Sembiyan Mahadevi, whose husband reigned 949-57, was widowed at an early age and was a highly respected patron of the arts who devoted most of her life to temple commissions. During her lifetime, special celebrations marked her birthday in the Shiva temple in the town of Sembiyan Mahadevi, named after her, and a metal portrait of the beloved queen was presented to the temple in her honor. It is possible that the image seen here is that very sculpture. Draped in silks, precious jewelry, and flower garlands, this processional figure would have been carried through the town for public viewing.

This highly stylized image is an instance of the blurring of lines between royal and divine portraiture in ancient Indian art. While the pose is reminiscent of the goddess Parvati, this tall, svelte image with heavy, naturalistically shaped breasts and drapery clinging to her lower limbs is uncommonly individualized in the shape of her face, pursed lips, and long nose. Stylized portrait statues like this were more likely to be identified by their placement in a temple, or their function in specific rituals, than through an actual resemblance to their human counterparts. As such, it would have been recognized as Sembiyan Mahadevi by its use in processions celebrating her birthday.

Published References
  • Thomas Lawton Thomas W. Lentz. Beyond the Legacy: Anniversary Acquisitions for the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. vol. 1 Washington, 1998. p. 160, fig. 1.
  • Aschwin Lippe. The Freer Indian Sculptures. Oriental Studies Series, no. 8 Washington, 1970. pl. 25-28.
  • Vidya Dehejia. The Sensuous and The Sacred: Chola Bronzes from South India. Exh. cat. New York, Seattle and London, 2002. cat. 14, pp. 122, 126-127.
  • Ideals of Beauty: Asian and American Art in the Freer and Sackler Galleries. Thames and Hudson World of Art London and Washington, 2010. pp. 100-101.
Collection Area(s)
South Asian and Himalayan Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum