Child Saint Sambandar, Copper alloy, India, Tamil Nadu

Child Saint Sambandar

Chola period (880–1279)
late 11th century
India, Tamil Nadu
Copper alloy
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)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace and Doris Wiener Gifts, 2010
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 240
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.
Dr. J. R. Belmont , Basel (by ca. 1950, until 1966; sold to Ellsworth); Robert H. Ellsworth , New York (1966–2008; sold to Wiener); [ Doris Wiener , New York, 2008–10; gift and sale to MMA]