Exhibitions/ Art Object

Karaikkal Ammaiyar, Shaiva Saint

Chola period (880–1279)
ca. late 13th century
India (Tamil Nadu)
Copper alloy
H. 9 1/8 in. (23.2 cm); W. 6 1/2 in. (16.5 cm); D. 5 1/4 in. (13.3 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Edward J. Gallagher Jr. Bequest, in memory of his father, Edward Joseph Gallagher, his mother, Ann Hay Gallagher, and his son, Edward Joseph Gallagher III, 1982
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 240
Ammaiyar, a sixth-century South Indian Shaiva poet saint, achieved her emaciated state after beseeching Shiva to free her from all her worldly encumbrances, including her famed beauty. He granted her wish, transforming her into a withered old woman, and she delighted in devoting her life to composing hymns in praise of her Lord. Here, she is seen singing Shiva’s praises, accompanying herself with a pair of cymbals. Her hymns celebrate Shiva’s predilection for cremation grounds and for his wild dancing form as Nataraja.
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