This elegant terra-cotta image of a goddess or semidivine yakshi, created to be a free-standing image on its own plinth, is an engaging figure with naturally shaped breasts, a pinched waist, and broad hips whose girth is emphasized by a wide hip belt made of three strands of beads. Her elaborate jewelry includes rows of heavy bracelets, anklets, body chains, and earrings with huge curved pendants. Her diaphanous lower garment swings out at her ankles and an outer cloth that reaches to her knees is decorated with rows of ornamented tassels. A fan-shaped headdress and the fabric band that decorates her hair complete her accessories. This terra-cotta sculpture was probably created from a mold but the detailed carving of drapery folds and tassels clearly show that they were added after firing. Clay images such as this, while less expensive to produce than those carved from stone, nevertheless reflect a prosperous urban society.

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Goddess or yakshi

Goddess or yakshi
India, state of West Bengal, Chandraketugarh, ca. 100. Gray terra-cotta. Lent by a private collection.