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Srinivasan Newly Discovered Inscribed Mathurā Sculptures of Probable Doorkeepers

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    Newly Discovered Inscribed Mathur Sculptures of Probable Doorkeepers, Dating to theKatrapa Period

    Author(s): Doris Meth Srinivasan and Lore SanderReviewed work(s):Source: Archives of Asian Art, Vol. 43 (1990), pp. 63-69Published by: University of Hawai'i Pressfor the Asia SocietyStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20111210.

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    Newly Discovered InscribedMathur? Sculpturesof ProbableDoorkeepers, Dating to the

    Ksatrapa PeriodDoris Meth SrinivasanGeorge Washington UniversityEpigraphic Analysis by Lore SanderMuseum f?r Indische Kunst, Berlin

    It is not every day that a discovery occurs whichchallenges the art historian to think anew about the

    methodology of the discipline. But the discovery in 1987of two sandstone statues inMathur? District has donejust that. The Mathur? School of art is of course one ofthe best documented, and that documentation does notbetray the same sort of uncertainties regarding thechronology of stylistic developments, as does, forexample, scholarship on Gandharan art. Perhaps it is forthis reason that the statues described below are somewhatunsettling. They make us realize the limits of ourknowledge. Were it not for the fortunate chance thatthese statues are inscribed and therefore susceptible toepigraphic analysis, their interpretation, based on styleand iconography, would have oeen, I am afraid, quitedifferent.

    In May 1987 two sandstone statues in very goodcondition came out of the ground of Bharna Kalan, 32kilometers northwest of Mathur? on the GovardhanChchata Road. Both statues are life-size and stand onbases that are inscribed. They were soon deposited in theMathur? Museum, where I saw them in June 1987.1Both figures aremales. The one with the sword (Fig. 1)is 6 feet 6 inches; that is, the figure is 5 feet 7 inches andits base is 11 inches. The male faces frontally; he standswith both feet planted firmly on the ground, althoughthere is a slight shift of weight onto his right leg. Hisoval face has sharply chiseled features: the eyes lookoutward under heavy lids; the nose is straight and thenostrils are defined; the lips relax into the faintest ofsmiles and the jaw is somewhat raised and resolute. Mostof his hair is gathered up and tied underneath the turban.The turban's bulbous portion and large knot are on theright side of the figure sforehead. Some of the hair whichescapes the turban falls in thick locks at the nape of theneck (Fig. ib). The dhoti he wears is tied just below theslightly rounded abdomen. It is secured by a large girdle,gathered into thin folds, and knotted in the center. Theends of the girdle are decorated with large tassels thatfall between the legs. A section of the dhoti is alsogathered into narrow pleats, seen just below the tassels.The end of the dhoti lies softly on the left thigh, in aseries of folds having a rippled edge. The figure wearsa scarf, best seen in the back (Fig. ib). It is pulled intoa diagonal strip of gathered cloth which drapes over botharms before opening into a cascade of folds in both frontand back. Evidently the scarf, dhoti, and girdle aremadeof a cloth sufficiently thin to permit of such finegathering.2The man's upper chest is decorated with two necklaces. One is tied close to the neck and lies flat; it hasfloral designs. The other is longer and looped. It seemsto be composed of six strands held together by rectangular clasps. The figure's two arms are ornamented

    with armlets and bracelets. The right hand clenches thehandle of a sword resting against the right side of thetorso; the upper part of the sword is now broken. Theleft arm is bent and the hand rests at thewaist; it seemsto hold the base of something. Whatever itwas, it shouldhave originally touched the left side of the figure becausea breakage point remains there. Perhaps the object wasthe figure of a child or diminutive person. A second century b.c. relief from Hariparvat Til?, Mathur? (Fig. 2)shows a small figure on a base held in the left hand ofa personage clad and ornamented quite like the BharnaKalan figure. The small figure touches the personage inthe relief precisely where the Bharna Kalan male snowsthe breakage point.The second statue is 6 feet 5 inches tall (Fig. 3). Thebase is 10 inches, that is 1 inch less than the base of thefirst statue, leaving the figures themselves of identicalheight. The dress and ornamentation of the second figurealso closely resembles the first, and the visual impressionis that they are related. The second male is distinguishedfrom the first; he wears a decorated turban knotted inthe center. The turbaned head is surrounded by an ogeeshape having flame-like incisions all over the back andalong the outer edge of the front (Fig. 3b). The left armis broken; the breakage at the hip indicates that the lefthand rested on the hip and held awater bottle. The lowerpart of the right arm is also damaged; it probably extended into space since there are no contact points oneither the right side of the torso or the right upper arm.The strut supporting the elbow would also indicate thatthe arm made some kind of open gesture. It is of courseno longer possible to determine whether the right handalso held an attribute.

    The two Bharna Kalan images appear to have beencarved by amaster sculptor who delighted in depictingcloth as it draped around amodeled form, and who wasable to convey the tactile reality of the tautness of skin,the gathers of folds, the weightof a stance, and theraised tilt of a head. Since both images display verysimilar sculptural qualities as well as similar dress,

    stance, ornamentation, and size, it is to be inferred thatthey were carved by the same hand probably in responseto one commission.

    It is immediately apparent that the figures trace theirancestry back to the Parkham Yaksa (Fig. 4). The over8 foot Yaksa, frontally conceived and standing with theweight on the right leg, is dressed and ornamented in amanner similar to the Bharna Kalan images. Even theshallow zigzag incisions indicating creases in the back ofthe Yaksa's dhoti are identical to those on the back ofthe sword-holding male (compare Fig. ibwith Fig. 4B).However, the block-like rigidity and archaic treatmentof the drapery and corporeal forms, and their interrelation, are not echoed in the Bharna Kalan images.The sculptural advances of the latter belong to a differentage. ...It is therefore instructive to compare the images withless archaic sculptures from Uttar Pradesh and surrounding areas. The Noh Yaksa (Fig. 5) does not showstylistic developments much in advance of the ParkhamYaksa. What remains of the Palwal Yaksa also shows a

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    heavy-set bust decorated with necklaces that are rigidand that fail to relate to the surface of the skin (Fig. 6).The now headless Pratapgarh Yaksa exhibits moregradually rounded forms especially in the abdominal areaand in the torque and folds of the girdle (Fig. 7). But theblock-like shape of the body and its stiff outline recallthe Bharhut style. The Vidi's? Yaksa no longer preservesthe stiff outline (Fig. 8). The image ismore relaxed andconveys a greater sense of plasticity. Pramod Chandradates the image to the second half of the second centuryb.c. because the modeling has a feeling for the soft andresilient surface of the flesh, and because the contoursof the ornamentation are in advance of those found eitherin the Parkham or the Bharhut Yaksas. Susan Huntington

    puts the Vidi's? Yaksa at 100 b.c. James Harle assigns thepiece to the first century b.c.3 Although there is notcomplete agreement on the date of the Vidis? Yaksa, allthree scholars would agree that the image is bracketedbetween the second century b.c. sculptures such as theBharhut and Pratapgarh Yaksas and the carvings of Sanc?,stupa I.It should be possible to determine whether thesebrackets are also useful in setting the relative date of theBharna Kalan images. A useful comparison to the BharnaKalan statues is the Yaksa or Guardian on the north pillarof the eastern torana at Sanc? stupa I (Fig. 9A). Certaindetails are similar, such as the turban type?especiallythe cone-shaped knot?and the rows of pleating betweenthe legs. However, the Mathur? car

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