Lot 3
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Greenish Schist
11th Century

Hoysala Dynasty

Height: 51 in (129.5 cm)

Parsvanatha was the son of King Ashvasena and Queen Vamanadevi of Varanasi. At the age of thirty, he renounced the world to become an ascetic. He attained absolute knowledge and became the twenty- third Tirthankara in Jainism. His colour is dark blue and his symbol is the snake.

This large sculpture shows Parsvanatha standing in the Kayotsarga posture. In this pose the subject goes through long periods of immobility with the hands hanging freely from the body. The sculpture is strong and powerful and has a magnetic aura. The Jina is shown bereft of any clothing and is flanked by two yakshas standing on a common base. The unmistakable multi-hooded serpent is seen above his head as well as a three-tiered 'chhatra' or intricately carved umbrella.

The sculpture has a fabulously modeled body; the shoulders are broad and masculine, the waist is slim, and the straight and deep rooted posture is realistically shown. The face is very powerful and distinctly points to the early phase of the Hoysala style. The firm lips, strong eyes and arched eyebrows evoke the importance of the subject. The arch around the sculpture is stylized with a floral motif traveling from the sides to the top. This motif, as well as the design on the sides, is quite typical of the region. The hood of the snake forms a circular canopy above the head. The tail of the serpent can be seen artistically curving all the way to the bottom. The two yakshas shown at the bottom wear large protruding crowns, cylindrical ear ornaments, and ornate jewelry including anklets typical of the Hoysala style. Their feet are also held in a manner typical of the school.

This sculpture is large and captivating. The bottom of the base bears an inscription which would most certainly denote the name of the donor, the reignal year of the king, and location. This kind of inscription is usually seen in important sculptures which were specially commissioned on the order of a king. The lovely greenish colour and polished surface add to the beauty of this simple yet mesmerizing sculpture.

A comparable Jina, very similar to the present example, is in the permanent collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. It is also a standing Parsvanatha, but from a slightly later period than the present example. It was with a British collector in 1806 and is in pristine condition. However the power and presence of the piece on offer is superior.


As per historical records, Jainism would most certainly be the oldest faith in the world. The religion preaches a path of non-violence, and its aim is to guide people towards the path of enlightenment.

According to believers Jainism has always existed and will always continue to do so. Jains believe that in each half cycle of time in this universe twenty four Tirthankaras are born. Parsvanatha, the twenty-third Tirthankara, is the only one who can be dated reliably. He is believed to have lived in the 9th century B.C. The most influential preacher was Vardhamana Mahavira, the twenty-fourth Tirthankara, who spread the religion far and wide.

The philosophy of this religion emphasizes the necessity of self-effort to move the soul towards divine consciousness and liberation. Any soul that has conquered its own inner enemies and achieved the state of 'Supreme Being' is called a Jina, a conqueror or victor. The followers of this religion are called Jains and they try to attain the path of the 'nirgathas' (those without attachments or aversions). The ultimate status of these perfect souls is called 'siddha'. Jainism as a religion spread across the length and breadth of India in ancient times. It had a very early beginning in Karnataka. According to legend Mahavira visited Karnataka in the 2nd century and initiated the kingdom's ruler, King Jivandhara, in the faith.

The Hoysalas

The Hoysala Empire ruled Karnataka between the 10th and 14th centuries. The Empire reached its peak in the 12th century, when they took advantage of the warfare between the ruling Western Chalukyas and the Kalachuris by capturing all of Karnataka as well as areas north of the Cauveri river.

The art as well as architecture of the Hoysalas is radically different from the rest of India. The style is distinctly classical. The stone used was also different, and so were the proportions imparted to the figures carved from it.

The Exoticism of the Hoysala School

For the purpose of valuation, sculptures from the Hoysala dynasty cannot be paralleled with sculptures from any other dynasty. These pieces fall into the exceptional genre of rare regions/schools like Amaravati, Kashmir, Almora, Chalukya and Nagapattinam. They are the ambrosia of ancient indian art for art connoisseurs.

Most sculptures of the Hoysala dynasty are well preserved at archaeological sites, monuments, and museums. Very few objects actually passed into private hands. Due to this, the school is very rare and coveted. The quantum of supply of sculptures from the Hoysala region represents only a minuscule fraction, perhaps less than 10% of the supply from most other schools.

Other similar works in: this auction  |  entire site

  Lot 3 of 24  

28-29 NOVEMBER 2012

Rs 20,00,000 - 30,00,000
$40,000 - 60,000

Winning Bid
Rs 24,00,000
(Inclusive of Buyer's Premium)


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