Lot 23
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Wood with polychrome
Mid 19th Century

South Kerala

Height: 36 in (91.4 cm)

From the 19th century onwards, Kerala had a tradition wherein large wooden figures would be made especially for temple festivals. They would either be left plain or painted. These pieces consisted of full figures, heads and animals amongst others. Some of the figures would be mounted onto wheeled platforms and brought out in a procession, whereas others would be carried on the shoulders of devotees. Some of the larger figures were mounted in the corners of the temple compound during the festivities.

This large head of Bhima, the mighty Pandava brother, is one such piece. The most captivating part of this piece is its bulbous eyes, which are wide open. The lips are parted and the upper teeth visible. The head has an ornate tapering crown. The design of the crown is noteworthy and very typical of the region. It is this same design that has passed on to the costumes of the traditional Kathakali dancers of Kerala. The ears are large and pendulous with lovely cylindrical ear-rings.

This tradition carried on up to the early 20th century; however, early examples like the present piece have distinct captivating expressions, a softness of colour and a stunning presence.

This head is part of a group of pieces that came up for sale over twenty five years ago. For a comparable example, refer to Living Wood: Sculptural Traditions of Southern India, George Michell ed., Marg Publications, Mumbai, 1992, p. 134.

Other similar works in: this auction  |  entire site

  Lot 23 of 24  

28-29 NOVEMBER 2012

Rs 2,00,000 - 3,00,000

Winning Bid
Rs 2,40,000
(Inclusive of Buyer's Premium)


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