Tree Spirit Deity (Yakshi)

India (Uttar Pradesh, Mathura region)

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 235

This double-sided bracket (vrksadevata) for a gateway (torana) is decorated on either side with a tree-spirit deity known as a yakshi, who holds a flowering tree as a symbol of her fecundity. Her pose is that of salabhanjika ("breaking a branch of the sala tree"): grasping a branch, she thus engages with the fertility of the earth, bringing the tree into flower. Such figures provided an auspicious presence at the entrance to a sacred site.

Tree Spirit Deity (Yakshi), Red sandstone, India (Uttar Pradesh, Mathura region)

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