40 Items in this Learning Collection
Collection Object
Collection Object
Collection Object
Collection Object
Collection Object
Collection Object
Collection Object
Collection Object
Collection Object
Collection Object
Collection Object
Resource with 3 media
Collection Object
Collection Object
Collection Object

All Rights Reserved ()

Dvarapala (temple guardian; pair with 1980/2.290)

Accession Number

Dvarapala (temple guardian; pair with 1980/2.290)


Artist Nationality
Indian (South Asian)

Object Creation Date
15th century

Medium & Support

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 Line
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Leo S. Figiel and Dr. and Mrs. Steven J. Figiel

Label 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

Primary Object Type

Collection Area

If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form.


& Author Notes

Web Use Permitted

On display

UMMA Gallery Location ➜ FFW, 2nd floor ➜ 217 (Gallery of South, Southeast and Central Asian Art)