India, state of Tamil Nadu, Chola period, ca 1100. Bronze. Lent by a private collection.

Parvati's exquisite smiling face welcomes worshipers who would never have seen her as she appears here. In a temple setting, she would have been draped with silks, adorned with gold and gem-studded jewels and multiple garlands of flowers that would have totally concealed the lines of the sculpture. This bronze is a festival icon carried in procession during every temple festival. The double lotus upon which the goddess stands would have been inset into a rectangular pedestal with holes through it or with lugs attached so that inserted poles could rest on the shoulders of temple officers who carried the image.