India, Uttar Pradesh
8 1/4 x 11 9/16 in. (21 x 29.3 cm)
Lent by The Kronos Collections (L.1985.42.3)
In India, find spots for ancient copper objects are located primarily in the basin of the Ganges River in modern-day Uttar Pradesh. The hoards, which contained celts, harpoons, rings, and figural sculptures loosely identified as anthropomorphs, date to a period of Indian history about which little is known. Although it is now generally assumed that these copper objects were made by indigenous people living in the area, the function and meaning of the objects remain unclear.
Made from molds and then embellished with hammering, anthropomorphs are characterized by semicircular heads resting directly upon the shoulders, volutelike arms held akimbo, and pointed open legs. Alternatively identified as male or female, these figures may have been emblems of fertility used in magical, religious, or political practices.