Sense of Sight – Chola Bronze Sculpture

The Chola Period in history was a time when art and architecture flourished. This period kept seeing improvements in these two fields through the years. The Chola’s were a very large community in South India for quite some time. In their field of art, this dynasty is specifically known for its sculptures. Sculptures from this period are in various museums all over the world. Their sculptures primarily depicted Gods such as Krishna, Ganesha, Vishnu, Shiva, Lakshmi etc.

The Chola’s were known for their sculptures as they had mastered the process of making them. These are considered as one of the best sculptures in world history. They had a very specific way of creating these sculptures commonly known as ‘the lost-wax technique’ and this method provided them with the finesse for their sculptures. They started this process by making the sculpture in wax, which allowed them to give it fine details. After that, they covered the entire sculpture with clay and then heated it in an oven. This made the clay hard and at the same time the wax melted away, thus creating a mould for the sculpture. These moulds were single-use mould which were broken after they used a metal alloy of bronze to cast it.


Krishna Dancing on Kaliya (Kaliyahimarddaka Krishna)

India, Tamil Nadu; Chola period (880-1279), late 10th – early 11th century
Copper alloy
H. 34 1/2 in. (87.6 cm)

This sculpture from the Chola Dynasty, depicts Lord Krishna overcoming Kaliya, a snake king who had been poisoning the waters of the sacred Yamuna River and terrifying the local population. This sculpture does have some ornamentation on it, however when compared to other bronze sculptures which were created by other dynasties these have almost no ornamentation. Inspite of that, what defines this sculpture and and makes it elegant is it’s body form. The form of Krishna is so graceful and elegant although and the little bit of ornamentation completes it. It’s also very interesting to see the way they have depicted the snake eventually turning into a devotee. If you zoom into the snake, we see a figure lying down with folded hands facing Krishna. This shows the transformation of the snake after Krishna defeats him. These kind of details and postures are what make the Chola bronze sculptures elegant.


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