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The Disputed Um -Mahe vara in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art: A Case Study in Reattribution and Reinterpretation

Stephen Markel

Archives of Asian Art, Volume 58, 2008, pp. 87-111 (Article)

Published by University of Hawai'i Press

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The Disputed Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art:

A Case Study in Reattribution and Reinterpretation

stephen markel

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

T he genesis of this study is a March 2007 Los Angeles Times article 1 on an Indian stone sculpture of Uma¯ - Mahes´ vara (Figs. 1, 1A) in the Los Angeles County Mu- seum of Art (LACMA) that had been offered for sale after formal deaccession approval by the museum’s Board of Trustees. 2 An e-mail by LACMA’s former Senior Curator of Indian and Southeast Asian Art (1970–1995), Pratapaditya Pal, protesting the deacces- sion, had engendered the newspaper article. The e-mail,

which objected to the deaccession on the basis of the sculpture’s art-historical importance, was sent to the museum’s Administration and to the Los Angeles Times on 12 March. Subsequently, the proposed deaccession of the sculpture was cancelled to undertake an extensive scholarly investigation of its art-historical complexities. The following discussion presents this investigation’s analysis and findings. The appropriateness of the proposed deaccession of

The Disputed Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art: A Case Study

Fig. 1.

Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara. Date disputed. Uttar Pradesh, India.

Gray sandstone; h. 96.52, w. 54.61, d. 19.05 cm. Los Angeles

County Museum of Art, From the Nasli and Alice Heeramaneck Collection, Museum Associates Purchase. M.72.53.2. Photo- graph 6 2007 Museum Associates/LACMA.

Fig. 1A. Back of Fig. 1. Photograph 6 2007 Museum Associates/LACMA.
Fig. 1A.
Back of Fig. 1. Photograph 6 2007 Museum
Associates/LACMA.
  • 88 ARCHIVES OF ASIAN ART

the sculpture will not be addressed here; rather this

study reviews the sculpture’s history of attributions and

presents evidence for revising Pal’s dating and geo-

graphical attribution of the sculpture, which were cen-

tral to his argument against its deaccession. A later date

and a more precise geographical provenance are postu-

lated, which are based on iconographic and stylistic

comparisons with the closest relevant works of art and

on recent scholarship on central Indian architectural

sculpture. 3 Finally, drawing on a new understanding of

the sculpture’s most salient iconographic feature, the

distinctive sitting position of Uma¯ , this investigation

presents a fresh interpretation of the iconological mean-

ing of this unusual representation of Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara.

It is useful to begin by identifying the sculpture’s

iconography and also by placing it in a scholarly con-

text, both of which help trace the sculpture’s history of

published attributions. The sculpture (accession num-

ber: M.72.53.2; h. 96.52 cm) is gray 4 sandstone and de-

picts the Hindu god S ´ iva and his spouse Uma¯

(a.k.a.

Pa¯ rvatı¯). They are seated on their respective bull and

lion mounts, with smaller figures below their feet that

represent their two sons Gan es´ a and Kuma¯ ra (riding

˙

his peacock mount), the devout, emaciated Bhr n˙ gi, an

˙

unidentified male ascetic, and a female flywhisk bearer.

This type of composition is known in Sanskrit texts as

Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara (‘‘Uma¯ and the Great Lord’’ [S ´ iva]),

but is identified in the museum’s official records by its

more familiar name, Shiva’s Family. The sculpture en-

tered LACMA’s permanent collection in July 1972 as

part of an exchange that included a number of works,

which was predicated on the return of an Indian stone

column, previously purchased in 1969, to the well-known

New York dealer Nasli Heeramaneck. 5

Over the course of the following thirty-seven years,

in various LACMA records, sponsored publications, and

affiliated writings, Pal attributed the Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara

with only minor variation as follows:

1970: Uttar Pradesh, 6th–7th century 6

1972: Uttar Pradesh, 6th–7th century 7

1973: Uttar Pradesh, Kanauj (?), 7th century 8

1974: Uttar Pradesh, Kanauj, 6th–7th century 9

1986: Uttar Pradesh (?), circa 600 10

2007: circa 600, place of origin unmentioned 11

Slightly varying attributions of the Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara

have been published by four other authors: Stella Kram-

risch (‘‘Markandi, Chanda District, Maharashtra (?),

6th–7th century’’); 12 Thomas Donaldson (‘‘Uttar Pra-

desh, 7th century’’); 13 Alice Heeramaneck (‘‘Central In-

dia (?), 6th–7th century’’); 14 and Carlton Rochell (‘‘Uttar

Pradesh, circa 600’’). 15 All four authors suggested dates

for the sculpture consistent with those of Pal. The au-

thors’ geographical attribution, Uttar Pradesh, generally

agreed with Pal’s. The one disagreement came from

Kramrisch, who proposed Maharashtra as the sculp-

ture’s place of origin. 16

The next step in this investigation is to examine the

evidence and arguments for the aforementioned attribu-

tion and dating of the Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara. Pal’s earlier,

slightly varying attributions in 1970, 1972, 1973, and

1974 can be aligned with his 1986 catalogue entry and

2007 to form a general consensus of attribution to

‘‘Uttar Pradesh (?), circa 600.’’ 17 In 2007 he further de-

scribed the Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara as ‘‘the only monumental

stone sculpture from the late Gupta period’’ and part of

the museum’s small ‘‘group of Gupta art.’’ 18

Ascribing the sculpture to the celebrated Gupta pe-

riod imbues it with great importance, but is problematic

given South Asian art scholars’ current recognition of

the frequent incongruity between the duration of a po-

litical dynasty and an affiliated artistic style. Strictly

speaking, the Gupta dynasty ruled circa 320–550, with

the last seventy-five years being a chaotic, fragmented

period disrupted by the incursions of the Hu¯ n as. Ar-

˙

tistically, however, the sublime figural and architectural

modes of the Gupta period proper continued to inspire

works across a wide expanse of India throughout the

sixth century. Accordingly, the traditional artistic chro-

nology is that

The Gupta period as a whole may then be divided

into an early Gupta period, extending, depending

on the region, well into the fifth century, a Gupta

period proper, and a late Gupta period beginning

in the west perhaps as early as the second quarter

of the fifth century but considerably later in the

east. Works undertaken after the middle of the

sixth century are then considered to belong to the

post-Gupta period. 19

The traditional conception of the ‘‘post-Gupta style’’ in-

cludes works made across northern and central India

after the Gupta period, from the mid-sixth century

through the tenth century, 20 even though the multitude

of works lumped together under the rubric is stylisti-

cally diverse and was produced under widely disparate

patronage.

Few Indian art historians still classify South Asian

works of art by dynastic or political labels (including

numerous labels referring to later, smaller kingdoms). 21

Instead, South Asian works of this period are commonly

classified according to their specific regional traditions

Fig. 2.

Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara. Mid-8th c.

Nand Chand, Panna District, Madhya Pradesh, India. Sandstone. Photograph:

Courtesy of the American Institute of Indian Studies, 7400.

STEPHEN MARKEL The Disputed Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara in LACMA

89

Fig . 2. Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara . Mid-8th c. Nand Chand, Panna District, Madhya Pradesh, India.

and chronological manifestations. In these terms Pal’s

assignment of the Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara to the ‘‘late Gupta

period’’ is outdated. Moreover, even if one accepts,

as Pal did, the traditional chronology in which ‘‘late

Gupta’’ art comprises works produced between the

mid-fifth century and the mid-sixth century, his dating

of the sculpture to circa 600 places it in the traditional

‘‘post-Gupta’’ period. This discrepancy calls into ques-

tion one of the bases of Pal’s argument to retain the

sculpture. Evidence presented herein for reassigning the

sculpture to the Deogarh region, circa 750–800, further

undermines the notion of a Gupta origin, one of Pal’s

bases for the sculpture’s importance. During this period

Deogarh (ancient Das´ a¯ rn ades´ a) was likely subject to

˙

the political authority of the Gurjara-Pratı¯ha¯ ra rulers of

Kanyakubja. 22

In arguing against the deaccession of the sculpture,

Pal further asserted that it is ‘‘the earliest of its kind,’’

or, as quoted in the Los Angeles Times in a much more

restricted context, ‘‘the ‘earliest of its kind’ at LACMA.’’ 23

This claim is problematic, because there exist several

different iconographic forms of S ´ iva seated with Uma¯ /

Pa¯ rvatı¯; 24 thus it depends upon which specific form(s)

Pal meant by ‘‘its kind.’’

Nevertheless, despite this claim’s inherent ambigu-

ity, it is possible to assess both versions of the claim of

  • 90 ARCHIVES OF ASIAN ART

90 ARCHIVES OF ASIAN ART Fig . 3. Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara . 8th c. Sankar- garh,

Fig. 3.

Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara. 8th c. Sankar-

garh, Satna District, Madhya Pradesh,

India. Sandstone. Photograph: Courtesy

of the American Institute of Indian Studies,

11960.

‘‘earliest’’ by focusing on the basic compositional ele-

ments of S ´ iva seated with Uma¯ /Pa¯ rvatı¯. The sculpture

of the Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara is indeed the earliest represen-

tation in LACMA’s collection of the two deities seated

together, regardless of whether one accepts Pal’s dating

of circa 600 or follows the revised dating of circa 750–

800 proposed here. In the overall context of South

Asian art, again regardless of which proposed date is ac-

cepted, the sculpture is certainly not the earliest instance

of S ´ iva seated with Uma¯ /Pa¯ rvatı¯. Several earlier exam-

ples can be cited: a fourth-century image at Mathura,

Uttar Pradesh; 25 fifth-century images at Nachna-Kuthara,

Panna District, Madhya Pradesh, 26 and Bhitargaon,

Kanpur District, Uttar Pradesh; 27 and a mid-sixth-

century image at the great S ´ iva cave-temple at Elephanta

(a.k.a. Gharapuri) near Mumbai. 28 Significantly, how-

ever, none of the fourth- or fifth-century images has the

‘‘Holy Family’’ tableau represented beneath the divine

couple, which is a defining iconographic feature of the

present

subset of Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara image. 29

At Elephanta

the area beneath

S ´ iva

and Pa¯ rvatı¯

playing dice on Mt. Kailasa 30 is damaged, but enough

of the composition survives to suggest that it was origi-

nally a representation of S ´ iva’s gan ˙ as (dwarf followers

of S ´ iva) tugging at his bull mount. Comparisons with

analogous scenes at contemporaneous sites, such as at

Sondni, Mandasor District, Madhya Pradesh, and the

Dhumar Lena Cave (No. 29) at Ellora, Maharashtra,

Fig. 4.

Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara. 8th c. Banpur,

Lalitpur District, Uttar Pradesh, India.

Sandstone. Photograph: Courtesy of the American Institute of Indian Studies,

53616.

STEPHEN MARKEL The Disputed Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara in LACMA

91

Fig . 4. Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara . 8th c. Banpur, Lalitpur District, Uttar Pradesh, India. Sandstone.

indicate that this was a standard iconography during

the sixth century. 31 Thus, it is highly unlikely that a

‘‘Holy Family’’ tableau originally figured in the Ele-

phanta representation.

The earliest known representations of Uma¯ -Mahes´ -

vara images with a ‘‘Holy Family’’ tableau depicted

along the base are from Nand Chand, Panna District,

Madhya Pradesh, dating from the mid-eighth century

(Fig. 2); 32 Sankargarh, Satna District, Madhya Pradesh

dating from the eighth century (Fig. 3); and Banpur,

Lalitpur District, Uttar Pradesh (near Deogarh), dating

from the eighth century (Fig. 4). Thus, assuming Pal’s

dating, the LACMA sculpture is indeed among the

earliest extant examples in South Asian art of an Uma¯ -

Mahes´ vara image featuring a ‘‘Holy Family’’ tableau on

its base. But in light of evidence presented below for re-

vising its dating to circa 750–800, and thus, the sculp-

ture must be recognized as belonging to the seminal

eighth-century group of examples rather than preceding

them by at least a century.

Having discussed Pal’s general claims about the

Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara’s dynastic affiliation and primacy, it is

now necessary to review the specific works of art that he

has proposed as pertinent examples in support of his

arguments. Each of his comparisons are examined in

the order presented in the catalogue entry in his Indian

Sculpture, Vol. 1. 33 Then I shall suggest alternative

comparative examples that I consider more germane to

  • 92 ARCHIVES OF ASIAN ART

92 ARCHIVES OF ASIAN ART Fig . 5. Detail of Fig. 1: Heads and upper torsos

Fig. 5.

Detail of Fig. 1: Heads and upper torsos of the LACMA S ´ iva and Uma¯ . Photograph 6 2007 Museum Associates/LACMA.

the attribution of the Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara. Pal’s first com-

parison is stylistic; the other three comparisons are

iconographic. 34 The significance of this crucial distinc-

tion is addressed in detail below.

First, for the sake of clarity, Pal’s argument is quoted

here in its entirety:

While Kramrisch is correct in commenting on the

uniqueness of the image and dating it to the sixth–

seventh century, her suggested provenance—

Markandi in Maharashtra—is highly unlikely.

Apart from the fact that the Markandi temples

are five centuries later, it is very difficult to accept

this work as a stylistic precursor. Moreover, the

sculpture generally is not rendered in the style of

the monuments of Maharashtra. On the contrary,

the elongated faces are somewhat reminiscent of a

terra-cotta Siva head found at Ahichchhatra (V. S.

Agrawala 1947–48, pl. XLIV), while Uma may

be compared with the similarly seated Mother

Goddesses from Madhya Pradesh (Harle 1974,

figs. 30–32). Parvati’s coiffure with coiled bun at

the back of the head is worn by female figures in

the Gupta-period temple at Deogarh (Williams

1982, fig. 204), while the curious cylindrical ear

ornament is more commonly found in figures

STEPHEN MARKEL The Disputed Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara in LACMA

93

from Bihar. Thus, Uttar Pradesh rather than

Maharashtra is a more likely source for this

intriguing sculpture. 35

Pal finds that the ‘‘elongated faces’’ of the LACMA

S ´ iva and Uma¯ (Fig. 5) are ‘‘somewhat reminiscent’’ of a

terra-cotta S ´ iva head from Ahicchatra [modern translit-

eration], Bareilly District, Uttar Pradesh, which is now

in the National Museum, New Delhi (acc. no.: 62.243;

Fig.

6).

The date of the Ahicchatra

S ´ iva

head is

not

specified in Agrawala’s excavation report, but may be

presumed to accord with material recovered from the

site’s ‘‘Stratum III: A.D. 350 to 750.’’ 36 In subsequent

publications the head was more specifically attributed

to the fifth century 37 and recently to the ‘‘end of the

5th century—beginning of the 6th century’’ (or c. 490–

510). 38 On the basis of these attributions, the Ahiccha-

tra S ´ iva head should be understood as dating at least a

century earlier than Pal’s attribution of circa 600 for the

LACMA Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara.

A stylistic comparison reveals significant differences

between the Ahicchatra S ´ iva head and the head of the

LACMA S ´ iva (and that of Uma¯ , which for the purposes

of this analysis can be regarded as stylistically identical

to the S ´ iva head). Although all three heads do indeed

have ‘‘elongated faces,’’ the Ahicchatra S ´ iva’s face is

more oval and

narrows toward the chin more than

those of the LACMA S ´ iva and Uma¯ . Its profile is also

more pointed, and the nose protrudes farther than on

the LACMA faces. More significantly, moreover, the

Ahicchatra S ´ iva differs substantially in the specific shape

of its facial features from the LACMA faces. The Ahic-

chatra S ´ iva’s forehead is triangular, coming to a pro-

nounced point at the bridge of the nose, and his brows

are incised; whereas the lower border of the LACMA

foreheads is continued by the bas-relief brows, and

together they form the shape of a compound bow at

rest. The Ahicchatra S ´ iva’s eyes are narrowly almond

in shape, angled upward at the outer corners, and set in

stylized deep sockets formed by the bottom of the brow,

which melds smoothly into the side of the nose. In con-

trast, the LACMA eyes are rounder, more nearly hori-

zontal and with half-closed lids, and the sockets of the

eyes are naturalistically depicted, replicating a facial

skeletal structure rather than being stylized into a con-

tinuous plane. The Ahicchatra S ´ iva has an overly full

lower lip with uplifted corners forming a broad smile,

and its chin is set back from the lips’ front edge. The

LACMA faces have full lips with deep dimples at the

corners, more nearly horizontal within the facial con-

tours, and their chins extend well past the lips in un-

natural block-shaped protrusions.

The two S ´ iva heads differ radically even in the for-

mal artistic organization of their ascetic hairstyles ( ja¯ t a-

˙

mukut a). The Ahicchatra S ´ iva has a simple tripartite ar-

˙

rangement: two thick braids of hair rise to a point that

is clasped by an equally thick circular braid. The ja¯ t a-

˙

mukut a of the LACMA S ´ iva is extremely elaborate,

˙

with numerous thinner braids complexly interwoven.

Prominent vertical braids are clasped at the top and

bottom by horizontal braids. The circular braid on the

top is much less emphasized, being at the back of the

STEPHEN MARKEL The Disputed Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara in LACMA 93 from Bihar. Thus, Uttar Pradesh rather

Fig. 6.

S ´ iva Head. Ca. 490–510. Ahicchatra, Bareilly District

Uttar Pradesh, India. Terra-cotta; h. 17 cm. National Museum,

New Delhi, 62.243. Courtesy National Museum, New Delhi.

From V. S. Agrawala, ‘‘The Terracottas of Ahichchhatra¯ ,’’

Ancient India, Bulletin of the Archaeological Survey of India,

no. 4 (July 1947–January 1948), pl. XLIV, 113a.

  • 94 ARCHIVES OF ASIAN ART

94 ARCHIVES OF ASIAN ART Fig . 7. S ´ iva head . Mid-8th c. Kota?,

Fig. 7.

S ´ iva head. Mid-8th c. Kota?,

Shivpuri District, Madhya Pradesh, India.

Sandstone. Archaeological Museum, Gwa-

lior. Photograph: Courtesy of the American

Institute of Indian Studies, 41305.

head and partially hidden behind the front and sur-

mounting components. Although in South Asian art the

arrangement and depiction of contemporaneous ascetic

hairstyles vary widely, the radical conceptual difference

between the ja¯ t amukut a of the Ahicchatra and LACMA

˙

˙

S ´ iva heads is strongly suggestive of different geographi-

cal and/or chronological origins. Thus, upon careful ex-

amination, the terra-cotta Ahicchatra S ´ iva head must be

recognized as only superficially similar to the LACMA

S ´ iva head.

More closely comparable with the LACMA S ´ iva

head is a stone S ´ iva head dating from the mid-eighth

century that is probably from Kota, Shivpuri District,

Madhya Pradesh (Fig. 7). The Kota S ´ iva head, now in

the Archaeological Museum, Gwalior, was published at

least a decade ago. 39 Many of its features are remark-

STEPHEN MARKEL The Disputed Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara in LACMA

95

Fig. 8.

Kaumari. Early 5th c. Badoh-

Pathari, Vidisha District, Madhya Pradesh,

India. Sandstone. Photograph: Courtesy of

the American Institute of Indian Studies,

11813.

STEPHEN MARKEL The Disputed Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara in LACMA 95 Fig . 8. Kaumari . Early

ably similar to those of

the LACMA S ´ iva head. The

Kota S ´ iva head’s ja¯ t amukut a is arranged in almost ex-

˙

˙

actly

the same manner as

that

of

the

LACMA S ´ iva

head. It has the same distinctive complex organization,

featuring prominent vertical braids of hair clasped be-

tween overlapping horizontal braids at the top and bot-

tom. Looped braids frame the sides of the face. Indeed,

the chief difference between the two representations

is their stylistic treatment. The braids of the Kota S ´ iva

head are flatter, slightly thinner, and more uniform

than those of the LACMA S ´ iva. Therefore they form

a more mannered, rhythmic pattern than those of the

LACMA S ´ iva head.

Other points of similarity between the Kota S ´ iva

head and the LACMA heads are the rectangular face,

bow-shaped relief brows, distinct foreheads that do not

merge into the plane of the nose, lips neither overfull nor

smiling, half-closed eyes (more visible in the LACMA

Uma¯ ), and triple neck lines. The two S ´ iva heads also

have locks of hair curling gracefully on the shoulders.

Thus, the extremely close similarity in the stylistic treat-

ment of the facial features and the distinctive manner

of arranging the ja¯ t amukut a strongly suggests that the

˙

˙

Kota S ´ iva head and the LACMA heads share a general

geo-chronological origin. There are, however, enough

stylistic differences, such as the Kota S ´ iva head’s flatter

  • 96 ARCHIVES OF ASIAN ART

96 ARCHIVES OF ASIAN ART Fig . 9. Ma¯ tr ka¯ . Early 5th c. Besnagar,

Fig. 9.

Ma¯ tr ka¯ . Early 5th c. Besnagar,

˙

Vidisha District, Madhya Pradesh, India.

Sandstone. National Museum, New Delhi,

51.101. Photograph: Courtesy of the

American Institute of Indian Studies, 6514.

surface plane and aforementioned emphasis on rhyth-

mic patterns, to indicate that these pieces are probably

not from the same exact site or artist’s workshop. Addi-

tional stylistic comparisons will be presented below in

order to propose a more precise place of origin.

Returning to Pal’s stylistic comparisons, he com-

pares the unusual posture of the LACMA Uma¯ , who

sits with her legs pendent in the so-called European

posture ( pralambapada¯ sana), with ‘‘the similarly seated

Mother Goddesses from Madhya Pradesh,’’ 40 and states

that ‘‘the posture of the goddess, sitting imperious with

her legs the way they are positioned, goes out of fashion

in India after the 6th century.’’ 41 The two ‘‘Mother

Goddesses from Madhya Pradesh’’ to which Pal refers

STEPHEN MARKEL The Disputed Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara in LACMA

97

Fig. 10.

Ambika¯ . Late 7th c. Gyaraspur,

Vidisha District, Madhya Pradesh, India.

Sandstone. Archaeological Museum, Gwa-

lior. Photograph: Courtesy of the American

Institute of Indian Studies, 34141.

STEPHEN MARKEL The Disputed Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara in LACMA 97 Fig . 10. Ambika¯ . Late

belong to two well-known groups of Seven Mother

Goddesses (Saptama¯ tr ka¯ ). 42 Both sets of Mother God-

˙

desses are from the Vidisha District of Madhya Pradesh

and date from the early fifth century. One is a rock-cut

Kaumari from Badoh-Pathari (Fig. 8); the second is an

unidentified Mother Goddess from Besnagar, which

is now in the National Museum, New Delhi (Fig. 9).

It should also be noted that there are three rock-cut

groups of Mother Goddesses in the nearby vicinity of

Deogarh, Lalitpur District, at least two of which (from

Rajghati and Naharghati) show the goddesses in the

European posture. 43 The significance of these sets of

  • 98 ARCHIVES OF ASIAN ART

98 ARCHIVES OF ASIAN ART Fig . 11. Gajalaks mı¯ . 9th c. Deogarh, Lalitpur District,

Fig. 11.

Gajalaks ˙ mı¯ . 9th c. Deogarh,

Lalitpur District, Uttar Pradesh, India.

Sandstone. Site Museum, Deogarh. Photo-

graph: Courtesy of the American Institute

of Indian Studies, 45320.

STEPHEN MARKEL The Disputed Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara in LACMA

99

Fig. 12.

Figures on doorjamb. Ca. 500–

  • 525. Das´ a¯ vata¯ ra temple, Deogarh, Lalitpur

District, Uttar Pradesh, India. Sandstone.

Photograph: Courtesy of the American

Institute of Indian Studies, 43705.

STEPHEN MARKEL The Disputed Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara in LACMA 99 Fig . 12. Figures on doorjamb

Mother Goddesses to the new iconological interpreta-

tion of the LACMA Uma-Mahesvara will be further ad-

dressed below.

Pal’s assertion that the European posture used for

female deities ‘‘goes out of fashion in India after the 6th

century’’ is controverted by at least two later examples

that are, in my view, very close chronologically and ge-

ographically to the LACMA Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara. They are

an Ambika¯ from Gyaraspur, Vidisha District, Madhya

Pradesh, dating from the late seventh century, now in

the Archaeological Museum, Gwalior (Fig. 10), 44 and a

Gajalaks ˙ mı¯ from Lalitpur District, Uttar Pradesh, dat-

ing from the ninth century, now in the Site Museum,

Deogarh (Fig. 11). In addition, the European posture

was used for images in southern India as early as the

seventh century and continued for over a millennium. 45

It was frequently used for depicting in both stone and

copper alloy images of Uma¯ while seated with S ´ iva. 46

The kinship of Uma¯ ’s European posture to those of the

Vidisha District and Lalitpur District Mother Goddess

images has significant implications for the reinterpreta-

tion of the LACMA Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara.

As Pal also noted, ‘‘Parvati’s coiffure with coiled

bun at the back of the head is worn by female figures

in the Gupta-period temple at Deogarh’’ 47 (Fig. 12).

But the hairstyles of the female attendants on the door-

  • 100 ARCHIVES OF ASIAN ART

100 ARCHIVES OF ASIAN ART Fig . 13. Caurı¯ bearer . 8th c. Kanauj, Farrukhabad District,

Fig. 13.

Caurı¯ bearer. 8th c. Kanauj,

Farrukhabad District, Uttar Pradesh, India.

Sandstone. State Museum, Lucknow.

Photograph: Courtesy of the American

Institute of Indian Studies, 49926.

jamb of the Das´ a¯ vata¯ ra Temple at Deogarh, which

dates circa 500–525, consist of multiple bands of coiled

hair in front of a multisegmented bun, and are much

more complex than the single-band bun of the LACMA

Uma¯ . Much closer to the hairstyle of the LACMA Uma¯

is that of a Kanauj female flywhisk bearer from style

similar to that of the LACMA Uma¯ ; the female fly-

whisk bearer is from Kanauj, Farrukhabad District,

Uttar Pradesh, dating from the eighth century, and

currently in the State Museum, Lucknow (Fig. 13). The

Kanauj attendant’s hairstyle consists of a single band

of coiled hair in front of a nonsegmented bun, and is

almost identical to the LACMA Uma¯ ’s hairstyle. Thus,

the close similarity in hairstyle between the Kanauj

attendant and the LACMA Uma¯ , and the former’s

eighth-century date, are additional evidence supporting

an eighth-century date for the Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara.

Oddly, Pal supported his claim that the LACMA

sculpture originated in Uttar Pradesh by citing the dis-

tinctive type of earring that the Uma¯ wears in her left

STEPHEN MARKEL The Disputed Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara in LACMA

101

Fig. 14.

Hara-Gaurı¯ . 9th c. Bhanpura,

Mandasor District, Madhya Pradesh,

India. Sandstone. Central Museum, Indore.

Photograph: Courtesy of the American

Institute of Indian Studies, 33331.

STEPHEN MARKEL The Disputed Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara in LACMA 101 Fig . 14. Hara-Gaurı¯ . 9th

ear. But he then goes on to state that Uma¯ ’s ‘‘curious

cylindrical ear ornament is more commonly found in

figures from Bihar.’’ 48 Leaving aside the ornament’s use

in Bihar as implausible support for locating the LACMA

sculpture in Uttar Pradesh, the ornament is typically

represented in Bihar sculpture dating from the eighth to

ninth century 49 rather than in that from the sixth to

seventh century, which would correspond to Pal’s pro-

posed date for the Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara. Moreover, the

ornament is also found on at least one ninth-century

stone sculpture from Madhya Pradesh: an image of

Hara-Gaurı¯ (S ´ iva and Uma¯ )

from Bhanpura in the

Mandasor District, which is now in the Central Mu-

seum, Indore 50 (Fig. 14). Finally, the ‘‘curious’’ cylindri-

cal ornament is actually a well-known type of ear stud

(generically called a ta¯ rki ), which could be made of

various materials, including bone, bamboo, wood, and

metal. Its use survives in tribal traditions extending

over Madhya Pradesh, the new state of Jharkhand, and

Bihar. 51

In sum, the comparative framework Pal used to

validate his date of circa 600 for the LACMA Uma¯ -

Mahes´ vara breaks down under closer scrutiny and in

the face of alternative comparisons. The analysis pro-

vided above demonstrates that the sculpture most likely

dates from the eighth century. It was most plausibly

made in southwestern Uttar Pradesh or in neighboring

Madhya Pradesh, but iconographic comparisons alone

cannot determine which region is more probable.

Analysis of figural style, as hereinafter performed on

the LACMA Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara, is generally far more accu-

rate than iconographic comparisons for establishing the

  • 102 ARCHIVES OF ASIAN ART

102 ARCHIVES OF ASIAN ART Fig . 15. S ´ iva Andhaka¯ suravadha (S ´ iva

Fig. 15.

S ´ iva Andhaka¯ suravadha (S ´ iva

Slaying the Demon Andhaka). Ca. 750–

800. Probably southern Uttar Pradesh or

neighboring Madhya Pradesh, India. Red

sandstone; h. 69.2, w. 41.6, d. 28.6 cm.

The Brooklyn Museum of Art, Gift of

the Ernest Erickson Foundation, Inc.,

86.227.145.

correct geographical and chronological attribution of

historical South Asian sculpture. That is because figural

style typically develops in and is confined to a particular

locale and temporal duration. Stylistic differences be-

tween adjacent regions during the same time period are

often subtle, but they can be ascertained by careful ex-

amination. In contrast, iconographic features, such as a

particular posture, are normally based on textual pre-

scriptions. Thus, they frequently cross regional bounda-

ries and persist beyond their period of origin. Regret-

tably, with the exception of the Ahicchatra S ´ iva head,

Pal did not attempt to present stylistic comparisons rele-

vant to the Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara.

Although an extensive review of the art-historical

literature and image databases failed to discover an ex-

tant Hindu temple site with sculpture that stylistically

matches the LACMA Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara, at least one

sculpture now in a museum collection exhibits several

comparable stylistic features—the representation of S ´ iva

Andhaka¯ suravadha (S ´ iva Slaying the Demon Andhaka)

in the Brooklyn Museum of Art (acc. no.: 86.227.145)

(Fig. 15). It has been attributed by Darielle Mason to

‘‘probably southern Uttar Pradesh or neighboring Mad-

hya Pradesh,’’ circa 750–800. 52 Her perceptive stylistic

comments include:

Among other features, the rectangular face and

closely set eyes, which are pointed at the outer

corners, tie this piece to images from ancient

Das´ a¯ rn ades´ a, particularly those of the late

˙

eighth-century Jaina temple 12 at Deogarh. 53

Fig. 16.

Detail of Figure 1: Head of

LACMA Uma¯ (three-quarter view).

Photography: 6 Museum Associates/

LACMA.

STEPHEN MARKEL The Disputed Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara in LACMA

103

Fig . 16. Detail of Figure 1: Head of LACMA Uma¯ (three-quarter view). Photography: 6 Museum

Besides the analogously rectangular faces of the

LACMA and Brooklyn sculptures, the distinctive treat-

ment of the Brooklyn S ´ iva Andhaka¯ suravadha’s eyes,

pointed at the outer corners, is highly significant for re-

fining the attribution of the LACMA Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara.

Erosion has abraded the corners of the LACMA S ´ iva’s

eyes, but Uma¯ ’s eyes (Fig. 16) have the same markedly

pointed outer corners as those of the Brooklyn image.

Additional stylistic features common to the LACMA

and Brooklyn sculptures include the deep dimples at

the corners of the mouth (mentioned above), S ´ iva’s dis-

proportionately oversized hands (note in particular the

LACMA S ´ iva’s huge hand resting on Uma¯ ’s shoulder),

and the idiosyncratic treatment of S ´ iva’s chest, with the

lower edge of the pectoral muscles defined by a sharp

break in the plane of the torso (see Figs. 1, 5).

Following Mason’s stylistic link between the Brook-

lyn S ´ iva and sculptures of the late eighth-century Jaina

Temple 12 at Deogarh, 54 let us compare the facial fea-

tures of Temple 12’s main jina image (Fig. 17) with

those of the LACMA Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara. The comparison

reveals the same rectangular face, half-closed eyes, and

protruding chin. Thus, the Brooklyn S ´ iva Andhaka¯ sura-

vadha and the Deogarh jina strongly suggest the Deogarh

region of southwestern Uttar Pradesh as the most likely

origin of the LACMA sculpture.

One remaining stylistic feature and a final icono-

graphic feature of the LACMA Uma¯ provide additional

  • 104 ARCHIVES OF ASIAN ART

104 ARCHIVES OF ASIAN ART Fig . 17. Detail of head of main jina image. Late

Fig. 17.

Detail of head of main jina image. Late 8th c. Jaina Temple 12, Deogarh, Lalitpur District, Uttar Pradesh, India. Sandstone.

From Klaus Bruhn, The Jina-Images of Deogarh (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1969), fig. 8.

corroboration of its revised date and general place of

origin. Under Uma¯ ’s breasts are three prominent paral-

lel convex rolls that arch in the middle and extend

across the front of her torso (see Fig. 5). Mason inter-

prets them as ‘‘ridges’’ or ‘‘rolls’’ of flesh, but on Uma¯

they could also be intended as a stylized depiction of

her ribcage—an indication of her ascetic nature and

prowess. These distinctive markings are commonplace

in sculpture from Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh,

primarily of the eighth century and continuing in some

areas into the ninth century. 55 A representative exam-

ple of this common stylistic feature can be found on an

Ambika¯ from Deogarh dating from the late eighth or

the ninth century (Fig. 18). Another iconographic feature

Fig. 18.

Ambika¯ . 9th c. Deogarh,

Lalitpur District, Uttar Pradesh, India.

Sandstone. Photograph: Courtesy of the

American Institute of Indian Studies,

45638.

STEPHEN MARKEL

The Disputed Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara in LACMA

105

Fig . 18. Ambika¯ . 9th c. Deogarh, Lalitpur District, Uttar Pradesh, India. Sandstone. Photograph: Courtesy

common to this general region and period is present on

both the Deogarh Ambika¯ and LACMA Uma¯ : god-

desses wear a pendant on a long chain that idiosyncrat-

ically curves off to one side instead of following the

body’s vertical axis (see Figs. 5, 10, 11, 13).

Iconographic comparisons relevant to the LACMA

Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara suggest its general place and date of

origin to be Uttar Pradesh or Madhya Pradesh, eighth

century. By incorporating the more precise analysis pos-

sible with stylistic comparisons, the most probable geo-

graphic and chronological origin has been refined to

the Deogarh region of southwestern Uttar Pradesh, circa

750–800.

This revised attribution of the LACMA Uma¯ -

Mahes´ vara now allows us to correct earlier misinter-

pretations of the so-called ‘‘stern’’ facial expressions of

S ´ iva and Uma¯ . It will be apparent from the descriptive

comments quoted below that Heeramaneck, Kramrisch,

106 ARCHIVES OF ASIAN ART
106
ARCHIVES OF ASIAN ART

Fig. 19.

Four of the seven Mother Goddesses. Ca. 750–800. Madhya Pradesh or Uttar Pradesh, India. Sandstone; h. 56, w. 84, d. 15 cm. Asian Art Museum

of San Francisco, Gift of Dr. Stephen A. Sherwin and Merrill Randol Sherwin, F2004.38. 6 Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. Used by permission.

STEPHEN MARKEL The Disputed Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara in LACMA

107

STEPHEN MARKEL The Disputed Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara in LACMA 107 Fig . 20. Uma¯ pati .

Fig. 20.

Uma¯ pati. 4th c. Bhita, Allahabad District, Uttar Pradesh, India. Terra-cotta. Indian Museum, Kolkata, A10380/NS1209.

From Doris Meth Srinivasan, Many Heads, Arms, and Eyes: Origin, Meaning, and Form of Multiplicity in Indian Art (Leiden: E. J.

Brill, 1997), pl. 19.14.

  • 108 ARCHIVES OF ASIAN ART

and Pal, went to great lengths in their attempts to ex-

plain why the figures’ countenances differed so signifi-

cantly from what would be expected if the sculpture

had actually been made in the sixth or seventh century.

This representation of Siva and Parvati is of a

rather stern and monumental character. That they

are indeed deities is indicated by their haloes, but

as a certain individualization appears in the faces it

is probable that a royal couple are here represented

as Siva and Parvati. 56

Stern and straight, the Great Lord (Mahesvara) and

Uma¯ /Pa¯ rvatı¯, his wife,

confront the

devotee. . .

.

S ´ iva’s erect bearing and commanding physique

show him in his majesty rather than in his grace. 57

Siva is sternly dignified and majestic, while Uma’s

facial expression and posture convey aloofness, if

not

disdain. . . .

The unknown sculptor certainly did

not represent Siva’s spouse as a timid acquiescent

female, as she is generally shown in such

compositions.

58

The so-called ‘‘individualization’’ and ‘‘stern’’ facial

expressions of the LACMA Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara can now

be more accurately understood as the distinctive counte-

nance—created by exaggerated facial features—charac-

teristic of much sculpture made in Uttar Pradesh and

Madhya Pradesh during the eighth and ninth centuries.

A representative example that clearly illustrates this

stylistic feature is a relief carving of four of the seven

Mother Goddesses from Madhya Pradesh or Uttar

Pradesh, dating from circa 750–800, now in the Asian

Art Museum of San Francisco (acc. no.: F2004.38)

(Fig. 19). 59

Finally, a new iconological interpretation of the

LACMA Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara can be presented, based on

a fresh understanding of the sculpture’s most salient

iconographic feature. There are three keys to this inter-

pretation. The first key is Uma¯ ’s unusual European pos-

ture, about which Pal simply noted, ‘‘During the Gupta

period this posture generally was assigned to Mother

Goddesses rather than to Uma¯ .’’ 60 The second key is

a terra-cotta sculpture of S ´ iva seated with Uma¯ from

Bhita, Allahabad District, Uttar Pradesh, dating (by ex-

cavation) from the fourth century, 61 which is now in the

Indian Museum, Kolkata (acc. no.: A10380/NS1209)

(Fig. 20). The iconographic feature of this sculpture

that makes it crucial for reinterpreting the LACMA

Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara is that the Bhita Uma¯ is depicted in

the same European posture. Srinivasan identifies the

Bhita image as ‘‘Uma¯ pati’’ and provides a vague transla-

tion of Uma¯ pati as ‘‘the divine couple.’’ 62 Donaldson

follows Srinivasan in identifying the image as Uma¯ pati,

but also does not perceive the significance of Uma¯ ’s Eu-

ropean posture. 63

The third key in the new interpretation is that

‘‘Uma¯ pati’’ literally means ‘‘husband of Uma¯ .’’ This spe-

cific terminology refers to an aspect of the deities that

emphasizes S ´ iva as the ‘‘primeval Father God’’ and Uma¯

as the ‘‘great Mother Goddess.’’ 64 Therefore, given that

the LACMA Uma¯ is represented in the same European

posture, traditionally used for images of the Mother

Goddesses, the sculpture was likely made in the Deo-

garh region of southwestern Uttar Pradesh. Also, given

that Mother Goddesses are frequently shown seated in

the European posture at several sites within this fairly

small general area (Deogarh, Besnagar, Badoh-Pathari,

and Bhita), it seems logical to interpret the LACMA

Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara as iconologically emphasizing

Uma¯ ’s

role as the ‘‘great

Mother Goddess’’ and that of her

beloved husband S ´ iva as the ‘‘primeval Father God.’’

Moreover, in light of the small size of the geographical

area in which Mother Goddesses and Uma¯ were shown

in the European posture, it is likely that this represents

a regional iconographic tradition, one which continued

through at least four centuries of artistic production.

Since the eighth century in Central India is recognized

as a dynamic period of Hindu iconographic develop-

ment and artistic innovation, 65 it is equally likely that

the LACMA Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara is an inspired expression

of this fertile, creative age.

To conclude, the previously proposed date of circa

600 for the LACMA Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara and the affiliation

of the sculpture with the Gupta dynasty cannot be sus-

tained. Stylistic comparisons presented here call for a

revised date of circa 750–800 for the sculpture and

narrow its probable place of production to the Deogarh

region of southwestern Uttar Pradesh. The revised date

of the Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara explains its distinctive facial

expressions not as anomalies of circa 600, but as char-

acteristic of eighth-century images. Finally, a consider-

ation of the Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara’s most important icono-

graphic feature reveals the deeper iconological meaning

of the sculpture.

Notes

1. Suzanne Muchnic, ‘‘LACMA does an about-face on art sale,’’ Los Angeles Times, Saturday, 17 March 2007, Calendar: E1, E20; and ‘‘Museum reverses decision:

LACMA does an about-face on sale of ancient sculpture,’’ Los Angeles Times. Calendarlive.com. 17 March 2007.

http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/latimes/access/1235303591.html

STEPHEN MARKEL The Disputed Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara in LACMA

109

  • 2. As The Harry and Yvonne Lenart Curator and

Department Head of South and Southeast Asian Art at

LACMA, I was principally responsible for initiating the

proposed deaccession. The museum’s official deaccession

policy was strictly followed in the formal approval process

necessary to authorize the deaccession.

  • 3. I wish to thank a number of scholars for sharing

their expertise and discussing this sculpture’s attribution

with me: Robert L. Brown (LACMA and University of

California, Los Angeles [UCLA]), Tushara Bindu Gude

(LACMA and UCLA), Julie Romain (LACMA and

UCLA), Walter M. Spink (Professor Emeritus, University

of Michigan), John C. Huntington (Ohio State University),

Michael D. Willis (British Museum), and especially Da-

rielle Mason (Philadelphia Museum of Art) and Donald

  • M. Stadtner (formerly University of Texas, Austin). Al-

though any errors in this article are, of course, my sole re-

sponsibility, it is nevertheless significant to note that all the

aforementioned scholars concur with the revised dating for

the sculpture in question.

  • 4. At present, the entire front surface of the sculpture

has a coating of a greenish brown synthetic polymer, poly-

vinyl acetate (PVAc), which was brushed onto it prior

to its acquisition by the museum. The uncoated surface of

the pristinely cleaned stone visible on the back of the sculp-

ture is gray (see Fig. 1A).

  • 5. According to the museum’s official records, the

Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara was part of a group of objects received

in exchange in 1972 for a purportedly early Indian stone

column (M.69.13.1), which had been purchased from the

Heeramanecks in March 1969. Prior to its accession, the

Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara had been on loan at LACMA since July

1970 (Loan number: L.70.107.2). No earlier provenance

information is available in LACMA’s records.

  • 6. Incoming loan record.

  • 7. Accession record.

  • 8. LACMA Bulletin (1973), p. 50, fig. 44.

  • 9. ‘‘Art of Asia Recently Acquired by American Muse-

ums 1972,’’ Archives of Asian Art, vol. 27 (1973–74),

  • p. 99, fig. 22.

    • 10. Pratapaditya Pal, Indian Sculpture: A Catalogue

of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art Collection.

Vol. 1: Circa 500 B.C.–A.D. 700 (Berkeley, Los Angeles,

and London: Los Angeles County Museum of Art and

University of California Press, 1986), pp. 256–57, no.

S133.

  • 11. Muchnic, ‘‘LACMA does an about-face.’’ Pratap-

aditya Pal, personal e-mail to LACMA administration and

Los Angeles Times (12 March 2007).

  • 12. Stella Kramrisch, Manifestations of Shiva (exh.

cat.) (Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1981),

pp. 58–59, no. 49.

  • 13. Thomas Eugene Donaldson, S ´ iva-Pa¯ rvatı¯ and Allied

Images, 2 vols. (New Delhi: D. K. Printworld, 2007), vol. 1,

  • p. 469; vol. 2, p. 448, fig. 517.

    • 14. Alice Heeramaneck, Masterpieces of Indian Sculp-

ture from the Former Collections of Nasli M. Heerama-

neck (New York: By the Author, 1979), no. 51.

  • 15. Sacred and Sublime: Art from India and Southeast

Asia (New York: Carlton Rochell Asian Art, 2007), no.

30.

  • 16. Kramrisch’s attribution will not be discussed

herein because I agree with Pal’s arguments disproving a

Maharashtran origin for the sculpture; Pal, Indian Sculp-

ture, p. 257. Rochell follows Pal in this regard and neither

Heeramaneck nor Donaldson provide any justification for

their geographical attribution.

  • 17. Muchnic, ‘‘LACMA does an about-face.’’ Pal,

personal e-mail; and Pal, Indian Sculpture, p. 256.

  • 18. Pal, Personal e-mail. Curiously, however, Pal did

not include the Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara in his major exhibition

and catalogue on Gupta art. See Pratapaditya Pal, The

Ideal Image: The Gupta Sculptural Tradition and Its Influ-

ence (exh. cat.) (New York: The Asia Society, 1978).

  • 19. J. C. Harle, Gupta Sculpture, Indian Sculpture of

the Fourth to Sixth Centuries A.D. (Oxford: Clarendon

Press, 1974), p. 6.

  • 20. J. C. Harle, ‘‘The Post-Gupta Style in Indian Tem-

ple Architecture and Sculpture,’’ Journal of the Royal

Asiatic Society of Arts, no. 5253/125 (1977), pp. 570–89.

  • 21. For example, see Pramod Chandra, ‘‘The Study of

Indian Temple Architecture,’’ in Studies in Indian Temple

Architecture: Papers Presented at a Seminar held in Vara-

nasi, ed. Pramod Chandra (New Delhi: American Institute

of Indian Studies, 1975), pp. 35–37; Joanna Gottfried

Williams, The Art of Gupta India: Empire and Province

(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983), p. 3; Mi-

chael Willis, Temples of Gopaks ˙ etra: A Regional History

of Architecture and Sculpture in Central India AD 600–

900 (London: British Museum Press, 1997), pp. 23–24,

26–27.

  • 22. Michael W. Meister and M. A. Dhaky, eds., Ency-

clopaedia of Indian Temple Architecture. Vol. 2, pt. 2:

North India, Period of Early Maturity, c. A.D. 700–900

(Delhi: American Institute of Indian Studies, Oxford Uni-

versity Press, 1991), pp. 27–30; Vishakha N. Desai and

Darielle Mason, eds., Gods, Guardians, and Lovers:

Temple Sculptures from North India A.D. 700–1200

(exh. cat.) (New York: The Asia Society Galleries, 1993),

p. 176.

  • 23. Muchnic, ‘‘LACMA does an about-face.’’ Ascer-

taining the validity of the assertion is complicated because

it is unknown whether the Los Angeles Times’ qualified

rephrasing represents a later clarification by Pal or is the

reporter’s supposition.

  • 24. Besides the Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara type of image featur-

ing S ´ iva seated with Uma¯ /Pa¯ rvatı¯ (typically with their sons

Gan es´ a and Kuma¯ ra, and the ascetic Bhr n˙ gi shown in a

˙

˙

tableau beneath them), related iconographic forms include

S ´ iva and Pa¯ rvatı¯ playing dice on Mt. Kailasa (one of the

earliest forms), Ra¯ van a¯ nugraha (S ´ iva and Pa¯ rvatı¯ seated

˙

together on Mt. Kailasa with the demon

king Ra¯ van a

˙

  • 110 ARCHIVES OF ASIAN ART

 

´

imprisoned beneath them), Vr ava¯ hana (S iva and Pa¯ rvatı¯

˙

s

˙

Gupta (exh. cat.) (Paris: Re´ union des muse´ es nationaux,

´

´

seated on S iva’s bull mount), and Uma¯ sahita (S iva and

Uma¯ standing together). For a recent thematic survey of

´

´

S iva and Pa¯ rvatı¯ images, see Donaldson, S iva-Pa¯ rvatı¯ .

  • 25. T. K. Biswas and Bhogendra Jha, Gupta Sculp-

tures: Bharat Kala Bhavan (Varanasi: Banaras Hindu Uni-

versity, 1985), p. 72, no. 91, pl. 37, fig. 88.

´

  • 26. Donaldson, S iva-Pa¯ rvatı¯ , vol.

1, p. 296, vol. 2,

  • p. 271, fig. 233; vol. 1, p. 367, vol. 2, p. 325, fig. 309.

    • 27. Muhammad Zaheer, The Temple of Bhı¯ targa¯ on

(Delhi: Agam Kala Prakashan, 1981), p. 87, pl. 65. Based

on the composition, the Bhitargaon scene probably depicts

´

S iva and Pa¯ rvatı¯ playing dice. There are figures represented

below the divine couple, but the terra-cotta surface is se-

verely damaged. The only figures that can be identified are

´

two of S iva’s dwarf hosts ( gan ˙ as), one at each end of the

panel. The one on the viewer’s right is playing a mr dan˙ ga

˙

drum. The right foot of an additional figure (probably a

gan ˙ a) also remains, but given the small amount of space

between the flanking gan ˙ as, it is highly unlikely that there

would have been room for Gan es´ a, Kuma¯ ra, and Bhr n˙ gi.

˙

˙

Iconographically, it would also be more logical for the

missing figures to be one or two additional gan ˙ as.

  • 28. For example, see Carmel Berkson, Wendy Doniger

O’Flaherty, and George Michell, Elephanta: The Cave of

Shiva (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983), p. 34,

pl. 27.

  • 29. See n. 24.

  • 30. For other possible interpretations of this scene’s

meaning and intended locale, see Charles Dillard Collins,

´

The Iconography and Ritual of S iva at Elephanta (Albany:

State University of New York Press, 1988), pp. 81–85,

fig. 2.

  • 31. Joanna Gottfried Williams, ‘‘The Sculpture of

Mandasor,’’ Archives of Asian Art, vol. 26 (1972–73),

´

pp. 50–66; Donaldson, S iva-Pa¯ rvatı¯ , vol. 1, p. 152, vol. 2,

  • p. 174, fig. 2:79; vol. 1, p. 153, vol. 2, p. 176, fig. 2:81.

    • 32. Donald M. Stadtner, ‘‘Nand Chand and a Central

Indian Regional Style,’’ Artibus Asiae, vol. 43/1–2 (1981),

pp. 131–32, unillustrated.

  • 33. Pal, Indian Sculpture, pp. 256–57, no. S133.

  • 34. I am distinguishing herein between an icono-

graphic comparison and a stylistic comparison. The former

involves the presence of a particular object worn on the

body and its structural form, or the presence of a par-

ticular posture or positional arrangement for a body part,

while the latter refers to the manner in which a physical

feature of the body is represented.

  • 35. Pal, Indian Sculpture, p. 257.

  • 36. V. S. Agrawala, ‘‘The Terracottas of Ahichchhatra¯ ,’’

Ancient India, Bulletin of the Archaeological Survey of In-

dia, no. 4 (July 1947–January 1948), pp. 132, 106.

  • 37. S. P. Gupta, ed., Masterpieces from the National

Museum Collection (New Delhi: National Museum, 1985),

  • p. 62, no. 72.

    • 38. L’Age d’or de l’Inde classique: L’Empire des

2007), p. 84.

  • 39. Willis, Temples of Gopaks ˙ etra, p. 53, pl. 57. See

also its unillustrated listing in S. R. Thakore, Catalogue of

Sculptures in the Archaeological Museum, Gwalior, M.P.

(Lashkar: Modern Printing Press, n.d.), room 10, no. 1 (b).

  • 40. Pal, Indian Sculpture, p. 257.

  • 41. Muchnic, ‘‘LACMA does an about-face.’’

  • 42. Besides the Harle 1974 reference given by Pal,

see also Devendrakumar Rajaram Patil, ‘‘Saptama¯ tr ka¯ s or

˙

Seven Mothers from Besnagar,’’ Proceedings volume of

the twelfth session of the Indian History Congress (Cut-

tack: South Indian History Congress, 1949), pp. 109–

12; R. C. Agrawala,

‘‘Ma¯ tr ka¯

˙

Reliefs in Early Indian

Art,’’ East and West, no. 21/1–2 (March–June 1971),

pp. 84–85, 88–89, figs. 11–15, 19–24; Joanna Gottfried

Williams, The Art of Gupta India, p. 51, pl. 48; Michael

W. Meister, ‘‘Regional Variations in Ma¯ tr ka¯ Conven-

˙

tions,’’ Artibus Asiae, vol. 47/3–4 (1986), p. 256, fig. 12;

Katherine Anne Harper, Seven Hindu Goddesses of Spiri-

tual Transformation: The Iconography of the Saptamatri-

kas (Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1989), pp. 79–

81, 84–85, figs. 31–39, 45–49; and Shivaji K. Panikkar,

Saptama¯ tr ka¯ Worship and Sculptures: An Iconological

˙

Interpretation of Conflicts and Resolutions in the Storied

Bra¯ hmanical Icons (New Delhi: D. K. Printworld, 1997),

pp. 76–79, pls. 21–26.

  • 43. Agrawala, ‘‘Ma¯ tr ka¯ Reliefs,’’ pp. 85–86, unillus-

˙

trated; Williams, Gupta India, p. 136, fig. 210; Pannikar,

Saptama¯ tr ka¯ Worship, pp. 88–89, pls. 46–47.

˙

  • 44. Willis, Temples of Gopaks ˙ etra, p. 42, pl. 14.

  • 45. For example, see Susan L. Huntington and John C.

Huntington, The Art of Ancient India: Buddhist, Hindu,

Jain (New York: Weatherhill, 1985), p. 298, fig. 14.11.

´

  • 46. For example see Donaldson, S iva-Pa¯ rvatı¯ , vol. 2,

pp. 447, 453, figs. 516, 527, 528.

  • 47. Pal, Indian Sculpture, p. 257.

  • 48. Ibid.

  • 49. Frederick M. Asher, The Art of Eastern India,

300–800 (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press,

1980), p. 86, pls. 186, 191.

  • 50. Michel Postel, Ear Ornaments of Ancient India,

Project for Indian Cultural Studies II (Bombay: Franco-

Indian Pharmaceuticals Ltd., 1989), p. 120, fig. V.52.

  • 51. Waltraud Ganguly, Earring: Ornamental Identity

and Beauty in India (Delhi: B. R. Publishing, 2007), p.

186; Postel, Ear Ornaments, pp. 304–5, figs. A.12.20 and

A.12.36.

  • 52. I am grateful to Darielle Mason for suggesting the

´

Brooklyn S iva Andhaka¯ suravadha as a comparison with

the LACMA Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara. Her research on the Brook-

lyn image is an instructive example of the recent scholarly

evolution in the study of South Asian sculpture, for only

six years earlier it had been attributed to ‘‘Rajasthan,

9th–10th century’’ in The Collector’s Eye: The Ernest

Erickson Collections at The Brooklyn Museum (exh. cat.)

STEPHEN MARKEL

The Disputed Uma¯ -Mahes´ vara in LACMA

111

(New York: The Brooklyn Museum, 1987), p. 155, no.

104. For an additional iconographic discussion of this

sculpture and a color illustration of it, see Rob Linrothe

and Jeff Watt, Demonic Divine: Himalayan Art and Be-

yond (exh. cat.) (New York: Rubin Museum of Art, and

Chicago: Serindia Publications, 2004), pp. 244, 246, 297,

´

discussion of Mathura images of S iva and Uma¯ standing

together, but she does not stress the importance and defin-

ing characteristic of Uma¯ being represented in the Euro-

pean posture; see Srinivasan, Many Hands, Arms, and

Eyes, p. 266.

63. Donaldson does, however, provide a more de-

´ no. 62. tailed classification system for images of S iva and Pa¯ rvatı¯. ´ 53.
´
no. 62.
tailed classification system for images of S iva and Pa¯ rvatı¯.
´
53.
Desai and Mason, Gods, Guardians, and Lovers,
Under Donaldson’s system, the Mathura image of S iva
p. 176, no. 22.
and Uma¯ standing together that is discussed by Srinivasan
´
54.
See Klaus Bruhn, The Jina-Images of Deogarh
would more specifically be termed an Uma¯ sahita ([S iva] to-
´
(Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1969).
gether with Uma¯ ; Donaldson, S iva-Pa¯ rvatı¯ , vol. 1, pp. 296,
55.
Desai and Mason, Gods, Guardians, and Lovers,
469.
pp. 123, 125.
64. Jitendra Nath Banerjea, The Development of Hindu
56.
Heeramaneck, Masterpieces, no. 51. Rochell (Sa-
Iconography (3rd ed., New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal,
´
cred and Sublime) accepts and paraphrases Heeramaneck’s
1974), p. 446. Uma¯ pati as a name of S iva is used in the
‘‘royal couple’’ interpretation.
Skanda Pura¯ n a (VII.1.276.13) to emphasize the ‘‘union of
˙
´
57.
Kramrisch, Manifestations of Shiva, p. 58, no. 49.
Uma¯ with the body of S iva’’ (A.B.L. Awasthi, Brahmanical
58.
Pal, Indian Sculpture, p. 257.
Art and Iconography: Studies in Skanda Pura¯ n a, Part IV
˙
59.
‘‘Sights Unseen: Recent Acquisitions,’’ in Treas-
[Lucknow: Kailash Prakashan, 1976], p. 171; Ganesh
ures: The Members’ Magazine of the Asian Art Museum–
Vasudeo Tagare, trans., The Skanda-Pura¯ n a, Part XX,
˙
Chong-Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture 9/12
in Ancient Indian Tradition and Mythology, vol. 68, ed.
(Fall 2006), p. 21.
G. P. Bhatt [Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 2003], p. 628).
60.
Pal, Indian Sculpture, p. 257.
The term
is
also
found in the Maha¯ bha¯ rata
and other
´
61.
The Bhita image was unearthed in an excavated
texts, chiefly in the context of names of S iva at various
stratum corresponding to the ‘‘early Gupta epoch’’ (Sir
sacred locations; S. So¨ rensen, Index to the Names in the
John Marshall, Archaeological Survey of India, Annual
Maha¯ bha¯ rata, reprint, 1904, [Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass,
Report, 1911–1912 [Calcutta: Superintendent Govern-
1963], p. 209; T. A. Gopinatha Rao, Elements of Hindu
ment Printing, 1915], p. 34), hence the fourth-century dat-
Iconography, 2 vols. in four; reprint, 1914–16, [Varanasi:
ing used herein. Later scholars apparently did not note
Indological Book House, 1971], vol. 2/1, p. 85; Jagdish
Marshall’s reference and generally attributed it to the
Narain Tiwari, Goddess Cults in Ancient India, with Spe-
‘‘Gupta period’’ (Doris Meth Srinivasan, Many Heads,
cial Reference to the First Seven Centuries A.D. [Delhi:
Arms, and Eyes: Origin, Meaning, and Form of Multiplic-
Sundeep Prakashan, 1985], p. 87, n. 193).
ity in Indian Art [Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1997], p. 266, pl.
65. Krishna Deva, ‘‘Extensions of Gupta Art: Art and
´
19.14) or to the fifth century (Donaldson, S iva-Pa¯ rvatı¯ ,
Architecture of the Pratı¯ha¯ ra Age,’’ in Seminar on Indian
vol. 1, pp. 296, 469; vol. 2, p. 447, fig. 515).
Art History 1962, ed. Moti Chandra (New Delhi: Lalit
62.
Srinivasan briefly mentions the Bhita sculpture in a
Kala Akademi, 1962), App. B, p. 103.