Figure of Sambandar
Tamil Nadu, South India
H. 21 cm
This bronze sculpture comes from the Kingdom of Vijayanagara, the last great Hindu kingdom, which lasted from 1336 to 1565, and whose capital was Hampi. Sambandar, a Tamil poet saint, is depicted here, dancing on a circular platform supported by a lotus base, his right hand raised in vitarka mudra, his left outstretched.
Sambandar was a Shiva poet-saint from Tamil Nadu (South India), who lived in the 7th century AD. According to Shiva Tamil tradition, he composed 16,000 hymns in complex metres. Sambandar is represented in the temples of Tamil Nadu dedicated to the god Shiva.
The poet-saint is traditionally depicted dancing, in a dynamic, soaring attitude. His face is youthful (he is said to have lived for only sixteen years), with a serene, joyful expression. The body is modelled with a certain realism, reflecting the skills of the craftsmen of a rich and cosmopolitan kingdom.
Provenance: Acquired in New York on 12 November 2005, then from an English private collection.