Western or Central Indian / Celestial Entertainer / 10th centuryWestern or Central Indian
Celestial Entertainer
10th century

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Indian Sub-Continent; Indian
Creator Name-CRT: Western or Central Indian
Title: Celestial Entertainer
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 900
Creation End Date: 999
Creation Date: 10th century
Creation Place: India, Rajasthan or Uttar Pradesh
Object Type: Sculpture
Materials and Techniques: sandstone
Dimensions: H. 19 1/2 in. (49.5 cm)
AMICA Contributor: Asia Society
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1979.032
Credit Line: Asia Society: The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
Rights: http://www.asiasociety.org
Style or Period: Western or Central Indian
Context: This sculpture of a celestial entertainer and her attendant would have been located on an exterior wall of a Hindu temple. The exaggerated pose, flat face, and broad features of the figures suggest the sculpture's origin in Rajasthan or Uttar Pradesh and a date in the 10th century. The large amount of jewelry and the flamboyant flutter of the performer's scarves provide additional evidence for this date, as northwestern Indian temple architecture from the 10th century onward was characterized by elaborate and dramatic decoration.

Entertainers, particularly beautiful women, are among the most common images on Hindu temples. They entertain the gods and designate the area within as a special palace or a heaven, where music and dance are readily available. Figures such as this were placed in subsidiary locations in the temple walls and functioned as attendants to the principal images, representations of the gods. Stretching provocatively while holding a tambourine above her head, this figure is either about to begin dancing or has just finished a performance. The smaller female attendant, who reaches up to touch the performer's breast, adds a bit of humor and an erotic element.

Related Document Description: Asia Society. Handbook of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. New York: Asia Society, [1981], p. 19.
Related Document Description: Newman, Richard. The Stone Sculpture of India: A Study of the Materials Used by Indian Sculptors from ca. 2nd Century B.C. to the 16th Century. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Art Museums, Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, 1984, pp. 44, 75, 84.
AMICA ID: ASIA.1979.032
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, Asia Society

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