Chola Bronze Art

The cholas ruled Southern India and Sri Lanka from the late 9th Century. They originate from Thanjavur and their empire expanded till the Maldives and parts of Indonesia. The Chola rulers gave great importance to the arts and constantly financed for their development. They built massive temples decorated with idols of Hindu Gods. Their Bronze commissioned sculptures for these temples are some of the most iconic works left back from their reign. The sculpture of Saint Sambandar is made out o Copper alloy and is 47.9cm tall. It belongs to the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection of Asian Art. Sambandar is one of the 63 Hindu saints who gave their entire life to worship Lord Shiva. His characteristics are: His young appearance, his happy dance posture and his pointing finger on his right hand. Myth is, when Sambandar was three, he had gone with his father to the Shiv Temple, where his father left him alone to take a dip in the ritual tank. On getting hungry he had milk from the sculpture of Shiv and Parvati. Because of consuming this holy milk, Sambandar composed more than 300 poems in the name of Shiva. Some of these poems are still sung in temples in Southern India. What I love about this sculpture is it’s lean and graceful body form. It’s not one of the idealistic body forms from today, neither is it one of the idealistic forms from that time, where a healthy man was considered to be fat with a round pot belly. The sculpture is just sleek and perfectly balanced to show a graceful ritualistic performance taking place. it isn’t heavily ornamented either like other forms of Hindu art.



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