Nagaraja (Serpent King)
ca. second quarter of the 5th century
India (Madhya Pradesh)
H. 38 7/8 in. (98.7 cm)
Gift of Evelyn Kossak, The Kronos Collections, 1987
On the Indian subcontinent, temples have been dedicated to the worship of serpents since the dawn of civilization. Both Buddhism and Hinduism adopted nagarajas and naginis (serpent kings and their consorts) as protective divinities and depicted them like human beings. This sculpture from a pair of royal serpents (1987.415.1, .2) is carved in the round. The figure stand in front of cobras, whose open hoods form canopies for their heads. They date from the early part of the Gupta period and maintain ties to the style of the late Kushan period.
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