Smithsonian Freer Gallery Sackler Gallery National Museum of Asian Art Gallery Guide to the Understanding South Asian Art
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Hinduism is a faith that admits the power of a multiplicity of deities. Hindus suggest that one may view the Infinite as a diamond of innumerable facets, of which one facet may beckon an individual believer more forcibly than the others. The three most popular deities of present-day Hinduism are the gods Shiva and Vishnu, and the great goddess Devi, or Shakti (power); Hindus are accordingly known as Shaivas, Vaishnavas, or Shaktas. Vast numbers of Hindu temples were built down the ages to enshrine the image of the chosen deity, and their walls were covered with sculpted images of deities, narrative reliefs from mythology, and rich decorative carving. The greater proportion of the surviving art in stone was used to decorate sacred structures. Fine metal images, too, were created in a sacred context, sometimes to grace an altar, and at other times, particularly in south India, to be honored in temple processions and festivities.
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A Yogini
South India, Tamil Nadu, Kaveripakkam
10th century
Granite; height 116 cm (45 11/16 in.)
Gift of Arthur M. Sackler      S1987.905
The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the Freer Gallery of Art
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