Throne leg

DATE:
17th–18th century
MATERIAL AND TECHNIQUE:
Ivory
CLASSIFICATION:
Sculpture
DIMENSIONS:
18 1/4 × 3 1/2 × 5 3/4 in. (46.36 × 8.89 × 14.61 cm) On mount: 20 × 7 7/8 × 8 1/4 in. (50.8 × 20 × 20.96 cm)
DEPARTMENT:
Arts of Asia
LOCATION:
303 ISLAMIC GALLERY
CREDIT LINE:
Dallas Museum of Art, gift of David T. Owsley
OBJECT NUMBER:
2017.35.3

General Description

This ivory leg of a ruler or deity's throne is completely carved in the round. The main figure, with its bared teeth and protruding tongue, is a composite mythic image, known as a shardula—_a cross between a lion and a sharp-beaked bird. The _shardula is associated with strength and, in particular, with cosmic power. The figure bears prominent breasts and a rounded belly, while between its legs is a female dancing figure. On the reverse side of the throne leg, the shardula is repeated, but the breasts of the central figure are considerably smaller, and at its base is a highly naturalistic scene of hunters riding an elephant through dense foliage. Thus one side of the image is a manifestation of the feminine with its breasts and a dancer, and the reverse is a symbol of masculine power and activity. The top portions of the carving may relate to the realm of the gods while the bottom reflects mundane earthly concerns, a layout often seen in the carving on Indian temple architecture. The detailed carving on this throne leg suggests that it was intended to be seen and appreciated, indicating that the entire throne may have been elevated.

Adapted from

  • Catherine B. Asher, "Throne leg" in The Arts of India, South East Asia, and the Himalayas, Anne R. Bromberg (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art; New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013), 118-119.

  • Anne Bromberg, Label text, 2003.

Fun Facts

  • The appearance of the shardula's birdlike face with a downward-pointed beak, bulbous eyes, and upward-ruffled feathers/mane is reminiscent of the crisp style of carving, drawing, and painting associated with Orissa (Odisha), an Indian state along the Bay of Bengal.