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Tree Spirit Deity (Yakshi)

Date:
1st–2nd century
Culture:
India (Uttar Pradesh, Mathura region)
Medium:
Red sandstone
Dimensions:
H. 13 3/4 in. (34.9 cm); W. 12 1/2 in. (31.8 cm); D. 5 in. (12.7 cm)
Classification:
Sculpture
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1927
Accession Number:
27.186
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 235
This double-sided bracket (vrksadevata) for a gateway (torana) is decorated on either side with a tree-spirit deity known as a yakshi, who holds a flowering tree as a symbol of her fecundity. Her pose is that of salabhanjika ("breaking a branch of the sala tree"): grasping a branch, she thus engages with the fertility of the earth, bringing the tree into flower. Such figures provided an auspicious presence at the entrance to a sacred site.
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