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Terracotta fragment of a Yakshi
West Bengal, Shunga period, circa 200 - 100 BC

Terracotta fragment of a Yakshi

A terracotta moulded fragment, depicting the head and torso of the female goddess Yakshi. Her pleasant rounded face is topped with an elaborate bicornate headgear, with a central floral medallion resting on the forehead. The large interlinking discoid earrings are embellished with hanging strings of pearls, which touch her jewel-draped shoulders. The arm shown is richly decked in ornate bracelets and her hand rests on her hip, which has a beaded girdle.

• Yakshi is a female earth spirit, accepted as a symbol of fertility by the Hindu, Buddhist and Jain faiths. She is usually portrayed as a wide-hipped, voluptuous woman who can cause a tree to bear fruit by touching it with her foot. Her physical form with the full breasts and narrow waist typifies the style used to represent goddesses within the Shunga period. Comparable terracotta fragments of Yakshi can be found in the Asutosh Museum of Indian Art 1, the Cleveland Museum of Art 2 and the Chandigarh Government Museum.3

1 Poster, A.: From Indian Earth, 4000 years of Terracotta Art, New York 1986, page101, no. 31
2 Poster, A. op cit, page 102, no. 33
3 Pal, P. et al: Indian Terracotta Sculpture, the early period, Mumbai 2002, page 53, no. 8

Height: 7 inches, 18 cm


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