H. 47 1/2 in. (120.7 cm); W. 21 in. (53.3 cm); D. 9 in. (22.9 cm)
Fletcher Fund, 1936
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 249
This representation of Brahma, the Brahmanical god of creation and ancestor of all universes, is understood to be omnipresent. Hence he is depicted with four faces and four arms, evoking his universality. Brahma’s skirt-cloth (sampot) is in the Bakheng style, widely favored in the early tenth century and named after sculptures associated with the Bakheng temple. It is knee length, is drawn up between the legs and secured at the back, and has distinctive pleated “double-anchor,” or “fishtail,” pendants in front. The piled-up dreadlock hair (jatamukuta) is multifaceted to reflect the four faces it serves, and is secured with a string of pearls; each face of Brahma wears a large diadem, and a speckled treatment of the lower face indicates that he is bearded. This sculpture would have occupied a subsidiary shrine at a temple complex dedicated in all likelihood to Shiva.