AN INDIAN PINK SANDSTONE TEMPLE FRAGMENT
Central India/Madhya Pradesh-Khajurãho, 11th or 12th century
Carved in the form of two Apsara or heavenly beauties between supporting columns, on contemporary iron foot.
H. 51 cm
Female beauty in Indian art is characterized by, large, firm breasts, a narrow waist and broad hips. Faces are often expressionless with large almond-shaped eyes, a pointed nose and fleshy lips set in a half-smile. The hair-style is a high pile, embellished with jewellery and the body also is very rich in jewellery, consisting of chains, chokers with pendants, belts with jewellery attached, long necklaces, armbands, bracelets and anklets and large ear-ornaments. Though originally thought to be water nymphs, apsara’s became heavenly singers and dancers, infatuating the gods and men. They are the “nymphs” of Indra’s paradise and partners of the Gandharvas (half-man and half-birds) in many of their love affairs. They are called the daughters of pleasure but despite their beauty neither gods nor asuras (demons, the enemies of the gods) wanted them as wives. Therefore it was decided they should become the partners of all. Ancient Hindu society had no problems with sex and prostitution. These sensuous sculptures of heavenly beauties are present in numberless examples on the famous Hindu temples of Khajurãho, the ancient capital of the Candellas, to the point of becoming its symbols. However, similar sculptures can be found in other ancient Hindu temples in Central India as well.