Patravahaka yaksha

India, Madhya Pradesh

Not on view

This nature-spirit personification—a yaksha—is a sculptural tour de force. He is a commanding presence, wearing a finely detailed hairband and a heavy necklace distinguished by back-to-back makaras (mythological sea monsters) framing a central jewel. His powerful chest gives way to a corpulent stomach, emblematic of wealth, that hangs over his tightly drawn knotted waist-sash. Such a fully realized figure, with equally pronounced musculature on the reverse, marks an important moment in the early development of Indian freestanding sculpture. The raised arms suggest that he had a caryatid- or architectural load-bearing-type function. He likely held aloft a sculpted bowl filled with intoxicating liquids and perhaps the ritual drink soma. Yakshas of this type would have been honored by name, but few have their identities preserved.

Patravahaka yaksha, Sandstone, India, Madhya Pradesh

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