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Description This image of the dancing Krishna might recall a moment in the god’s childhood or youth: his glee at snatching a ball of butter; his triumph over the snake-demon Kaliya, when he pranced on the conquered serpent’s hoods; or, as an adolescent, his dance with the female cowherds of Brindavan, when he replicated himself so that each maiden would feel that he was hers alone. As an incarnation of Vishnu, he raises his right hand in reassurance, to remind devotees that he protects them. During ritual processions, poles inserted through the rings in the base would have secured this sculpture within a chariot or palanquin. At points along the procession the sculpture would have been lowered so devotees could perform prayers and make ritual offerings before their god. Widely admired today for their craftsmanship, this festival bronzes was produced in southern India, mostly in the state of Tamil Nadu, during the Chola dynasty (9th–13th century). The Chola kings and their people spoke Tamil; the language continues to be used in southern India. Part of a rich and still living tradition of casting solid metal sculpture in South India, this image was made using the lost-wax casting technique. First, a model of the final sculpture is created from a mixture of wax and resin. Every detail that is seen in the cast metal sculpture is captured in this wax-resin model. The model is then encapsulated in a mold, leaving an opening at its base. The mold is heated, which solidifies the mold material, while the wax within is melted and poured out. The mold is then inverted, metal is melted in a crucible, and the molten metal is poured into the void left by the melted wax. Once cooled, the mold is broken, revealing the cast metal sculpture.
Provenance John D. Rockefeller, III; C. T. Loo, New York; Sale, Sotheby's, New York, June 17 1993, lot 101; purchased by Walters Art Museum, 1993.
Credit Museum purchase with funds provided by the W. Alton Jones Foundation Acquisition Fund, 1993

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late 10th century CE (Chola)
copper alloy
Accession Number
H: 14 3/8 × W: 8 11/16 × D: 5 9/16 in. (36.5 × 22 × 14.2 cm)


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