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A large and important bronze figure of Parvati
SOUTH INDIA, CHOLA PERIOD, CIRCA 1100

Is how the auction house describes her. Her base price was set for $800,000 - $1,200,000 and she was auctioned for $ 963,750

There is video link describing her and assigning a 11th Century date for her.

Chola bronzes of this height /size and beauty are comparable to the great bronzes just post the Sembian Madevi era and closer to Sri Raja Raja and Rajendra period.
The provenance and buyer information is scarce -

Provenance
Collection of Ariane Dandois, London, acquired in Geneva, 16 March 1977

Literature

C. Vogel, “Global Treasure Trove,” New York Times Magazine, 1 March 1987, pp. 62-66

A casual check reveals nothing about the said bronze in the quoted magazine article.

It would be interesting for readers to read more about the previous owner but that is not our objective.

Now comes the interesting part.

In 1944 there is this interesting article titled

Gauri
A Southern Bronze
By K. B. IYER

image002

One of such pieces is Gauri from the Kailasanath temple, Conjeeveram, now in the collection of Ramgopal, the well-known dancer.

Both tradition and stylistic features distinguish it as an early Chola work of probably the 10th century

Gauri is the Gracious Mother of the Universe, the Better-half of Siva, half-female half-male (Ardha-nariswara). In love and in devotion unexcelled even among the gods, She is the supreme arche-type of conjugal felicity. When love’s darts bruise young maidens’ hearts, their secret prayers are turned to her. It is she who protects them from every shoal and storm on the unchartered sea of married life. Just as Siva as Nata-raja symbolises the cosmic law of rhythm, Parvati in her aspect as Gauri symbolises the universal and eternal female instinct of yearning devotion, aspiration and concern for the male. Isn’t this figure instinct with that poignant feeling which makes the contemplation of beauty a haunting delight?

On first look they look similar, lets analyse them

kai_gauri
kai_gauri2
kai_gauri_hands
kai_gauri_handsrev

There is a problem in the mentioned dimensions.

The 1944 article mentions ” Exclusive of the pedestal which is 9 inches, the figure is 26 inches in height” whereas the auction house measures it as ” 33 1/8 in. (84.2 cm.) high ” - however, the stylistic identifications match to a T.

It is pertinent to note that the Great Chola ruler Raja Raja visited Kanchi Kailasantha temple and was awe struck by it and some consider it to be his inspiration for building the Tanjore Bridhadeshwara temple. A further study of the Chola inscriptions could reveal if this bronze is indeed his gift.

This is obviously the same bronze from the famed Kailasantha temple of Kanchi which somehow landed up with famous dancer Sri Ram Gopal OBE and was with him atleast till 1944.

He passed away in UK in 2003.

How the Gauri went out of India, was sold in Geneva and acquired by the prev owner should be easily available to the auction house. A simple google search reveals the 1944 article and photos. . Considering the current cloud over Chola bronzes, am sure there was enough due deligence done and provenances verified to accord this Bronze ” A large and important bronze figure of Parvati” Tag. If so why was her past erased?

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Category: Sculpture

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 19th, 2014 at 13:45 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Comment

vancheeswaran gopal
  1  

Dear Mr Vijay:
I am observing yeoman service on your part to restore the deities to the respective temples.
Thank god, our stolen cultural heritage is retrieved by only people like you. God bless
your spirited journey. With best wishes and regards, veegopalji

March 23rd, 2014 at 23:06

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