This small bronze is remarkable in a lot of ways and by now I’ve seen about a billion. For a start, it’s immaculate, as are all the pieces here. Unlike northern India, the last path of Muslim destruction here was about AD 1200. Whereas the incredible museum at Sarnath, the site of Buddha’s first speech to his small band of disciples, not so far south of here, is a story book of repeated destruction over centuries, not one piece remains intact, including the most beautiful Buddha ever conceived in stone, the masterpiece of the sculpturally elite Gupta empire, yet 2 of the ruined objects are the origin of 2 of India’s important images, including their flag logo (the 24 spoked wheel), and another a currency logo (the 4 lions), salvaged from the scrap, and on display.
Don’t get me started.
This 6″ bronze above is quite recent, somewhere from the 18th to 19th century but is nonetheless a national treasure. It’s representative of keys elements of Tantric imagery. The characters are (unimportant to the story a bit) Chakrsamvara and Vajravarahi. The picture is lousy but she’s astride him facing him with her back to us. He represents wisdom, she compassion, and therefore together enlightenment. Further, this period of imagery took the license to increase traditional multi-limbed deities to an extreme, so many many arms, multiple heads. The idea here is that the enlightenment from the union of these two resulted in a unique idea, the merging of deities. This is kind of my maybe lousy summation, you have no idea how hard this stuff is to Google.
So why am I here, for 4 days only, and why I am I not at my next destination. Good question.