King Narasimha



Photographer: Arthur Llewellyn Basham

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By the 13th century, some regions of India showed a marked decline in their sculptural qualities so that, although compositions became richer, figures and their ornaments became merely pretty images with little dignity. Some of the divine statues were powerful and monumental, but also coarse and dull in this same light. Two panels, carved as if in metal, show something of this growing tendency toward triteness although their subjects are certainly varied and not in the least common. King Narasimha is shown first as an archer, then seated on a fancy swing. Around the king are hordes of admiring companions, apes and dwarfs much like those we have become accustomed to seeing in association with divine statues. Here, however, the secondary companion figures are bothersome additions and space-fillers, and we can see that, if they were removed from the composition, it would be dull, indeed, even if the king's image were interesting in itself. In terms of handling, there is still a good deal of excellence in the work, for the carving is sure if disproportionate with respect to the scale of the figures. -- (left) the king as archer
(right) the king on a swing. Eastern Ganges, 13th Century. Konarek, Orissa.


Orissa-- Konarak, stone sculpture, slide set





Archives Series

Basham Collection

Date created

circa 1970s

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