Child Saint Sambandar

Period: Chola period (880–1279)

Date: late 11th century

Culture: India (Tamil Nadu)

Medium: Copper alloy

Dimensions: H. 29 3/8 in. (74.6 cm); W. 14 5/8 in. (37.1 cm); D. (rectangular base) 12 5/8 in. (32.1 cm)

Classification: Sculpture

Credit Line: Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace and Doris Wiener Gifts, 2010

Accession Number: 2010.230


Sambandar, the popular seventh-century child saint, is one of the muvar, the three principal saints of South India. Legend recounts that after receiving a gift of milk (represented by the bowl) from the goddess Uma, the infant Sambandar devoted his life to composing hymns in praise of Lord Shiva; his raised hand points to Shiva’s heavenly abode at Mount Kailash, in the Himalayas. The sculptor captured the saint’s childlike quality while also empowering him with the maturity and authority of a spiritual leader. This icon was intended for processional use during temple festivals celebrating gods and saints.