Celestial Musician (Gandharva)
Western Chalukyan period
India (Karnataka, possibly Dharwar)
H. 40 3/4 in. (103.5 cm)
Gift of Florence and Herbert Irving, in honor of Philippe de Montebello, 2008
A semidivine celestial musician to the gods is shown playing a flute, standing beneath the canopy of a flowering tree. This bracket figure was intended to decorate a pillar capital of the interior of a Hindu temple of the western Chalukyas. Temples of the southern Deccan favored the use of such figures of celestial musicians and dancers, poised at an angle between the capital of a pillar and the temple's interior ceiling stones to form a bridge between the worldly and heavenly spheres, and to make explicit the notion of the temple as a heavenly palace.