359. An Ivory Standing Female Figure

Orissa, 18th century
Size: 20.6 cm high

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She presents herself very boldly, unlike coy Greek Aphrodite. She reflects several recognizable traditions, such as the monumental Jain statues whose frontal stance she mimics, and the pervading eroticism of Indian religious sculpture, and yet she doesn’t entirely fit into these categories. She certainly wasn’t designed to titillate the jaded palate of an Orissan aristocrat, nor to explain how the natives look naked to a curious colonial. She just belongs to that ineffable Indian tradition of sensing the divine in the female form, something that no doubt made Jean-Claude Ciancimino embrace her.

Provenance: Jean-Claude Ciancimino, London
Sven Gahlin, acquired 1969