Dvarapala (temple guardian; pair with 1980/2.290)Artist(s)IndianArtist NationalityIndian (South Asian)Object Creation Date15th centuryMedium & SupportwoodDimensions
52 3/8 in x 23 5/8 in x 11 in (133 cm x 60 cm x 28 cm);52 3/8 in x 23 5/8 in x 11 in (133 cm x 60 cm x 28 cm)Credit LineGift of Dr. and Mrs. Leo S. Figiel and Dr. and Mrs. Steven J. FigielLabel copy
March 28, 2009
In Kerala and other parts of South India rich in forests, wood was used for architectural supports, wall panels, and votive images within temples. The material lends itself to the richly carved surfaces and deep modeling that enliven this fierce dvarapala (protector of the directions). His eyeballs bulge forth and his stomach protrudes over his waistband, giving weight and volume to his dance-like pose. Bracelets, anklets, necklaces, earrings, and an elaborate belt drip across his body suggesting movement and the sounds of jingling metal. Associated with Shiva’s ferocious guise as Bhairava, the dvarapala is at once horrific and humorous, powerful and lithe—dramatic qualities that would have been enhanced by what was once a brightly painted surface.
(Label for UMMA South and Southeast Asia Gallery Opening Rotation, March 2009)Subject matter
Dvarapala means the guardian of a door and were usually produced in pairs, meant to flank the entrance to a temple or to a shrine. The horrific nature of the figure implies that this and its mate were made for a Shaiva temple, one dedicated to the god Shiva.Physical Description
The two-armed figure dances with his left leg raised and wrapped around a club. His left arm is extended down his body and holds onto the club and his right hand is raised almost to his ear. He wears much of jewelry including bracelets, anklets, necklaces with should loops and an elaborate belt almost forming an apron. His stomach protrudes over the belt. He also has large earrings in the form of roaring lions and a jewel encrusted crown. His eyes bulge out and his mouth is open showing his teeth. The whole is badly weathered and not nearly as crisp as his partner, 1980/2.290.Primary Object Classification Sculpture Primary Object TypefigureCollection AreaAsianRights
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