Category Archives: yakshi

Art history of Bengal : early terracottas

   Terracotta or baked clay has been used as a medium to create objects of beauty and utility and votive objects for rituals since ancient times. Clay is available in abundance in the Gangetic valley. The history of using clay goes back to 2nd century B.C.  Excavations at Pandu Rajar Dhibi, Chandraketugarh and other sites have revealed interesting figures made from terracotta. There have been evidences of the art from the Mauryan period from the excavations at Chandraketugarh, Tamluk and Bangarh. The figures are of folk origin made by hand using applique technique; the mother goddess and animal figures continue to be made and used for rituals in rural Bengal, having an ageless quality about them.

     Different types of figures have been found relating to the pre-Mauryan times. Beak-headed mother goddesses with pin-holes and large breasts, fertility goddesses with wide hips, wearing girdles with pin holes. Bull front with fan shaped shaped hump too has been found. During the Mauryan times, the torsos were modelled by hand, faces were moulded, dress and ornament were made separately and fixed. The women were portrayed with full breasts, heavy hips and resembling a fertility goddess. Different historical evidence as gleaned from the Indian epics and archaeological findings are indicative of Aryan settlements in North and south Bengal. but the Aryan culture took centuries to gel with the indigenous culture of Bengal. The excavations undertaken all over Bengal revealed that the maximum objects were made out of terracotta which tell us the story of Bengal from yore. Bengal temples find mention in the travelogue of Fa-Hien and Hieun Tsang, Gupta period inscriptions and the illustrations of Buddhist manuscripts.

Male figure, Chandraketugarh, India, 2nd-1st century BC, terracotta - Ethnological Museum, Berlin - DSC01682.JPG

Male figure, Chandraketugarh, West Bengal, 2nd-1st century BC, Ethnological Museum, Berlin.

By Daderot (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

   Terracotta has been a material abundantly found during excavations and clay seems to have been a popular medium used by common folk to express themselves. Clay objects from 1st-2nd millennium B.C have been found at Pandu Rajar Dhibi. Excavations at Tamluk, Bangarh and Chandraketugarh  have resulted in terracottas which include male figures, fertility goddesses and yaksha/yakshi figures. the women figures are depicted wearing elaborate head-dress,knob-earrings,heavy bangles and neck-pieces. the dress and drapery have been done on these figures using applique technique. The terracotta art found at the ancient sites also reveal nagas, naginis, apasaras and kinnaras. The other art objects are toys, animals, birds, erotic motifs, narrative plaques and pottery with designs. Gupta period terracottas have been found at Birbhum district of West Bengal.

SungaFecondity2.jpg

Sunga fecondity deity or fertility goddess, Chandraketugarh, Sunga 2nd-1st century BCE. Musée Guimet,Paris. 

By No machine-readable author provided. World Imaging assumed (based on copyright claims). [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Winged female deity, Chandraketugarh, India, 2nd-1st century BC, terracotta, view 1 - Ethnological Museum, Berlin - DSC01683.JPG

Winged female deity in terracotta , Sunga dynasty, Chandraketugarh, West Bengal, 2nd-1st century B.C, , Ethnological Museum, Berlin.

By Daderot – Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45206173

 

    Yakshas and Yakshis resemble human figures but cannot be clearly identified as divine beings or ordinary mortals. They are associated with emblems, animals, birds and mounts.  During the Mauryan and Sunga period their images were frequently made and have been found at various sites. Kubera, the leader of the yakshas has been depicted too. Yakshis outnumber yakshas and are seen with hairpins, common in both West Bengal and North India. They wear heavy jewellery like ear kundalas, sirastraka, necklace and bangles.

Yaksha (Chandraketugarh).jpg

Terracotta yaksha, Sunga dynasty, 1st century BC, Chandraketugarh, West Bengal, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

By Shakti – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14898695

          Toys  and animal figures in terracotta were made for children. Clay carts were most common usually the two or four wheeled chariot type cart. The animal depicted would be a ram or horse. Plaques depicting Jataka tales have been found at Chandraketugarh. Amorous couple have been found at Tamluk and Chandraketugrah.

Boy Feeding a Parrot LACMA M.85.35.1.jpg

Boy feeding a parrot, Chandraketugarh, West Bengal, 1st century B.C,  LACMA, USA.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

File:Rattle in the shape of Kubera, India, West Bengal, Chandraketugarh, c. 200 BCE, terracotta, HAA.JPG

Rattle in the shape of Kubera,terracotta, Chandraketugarh, West Bengal, 200 B.C,  Honolulu Academy of Arts. U.S.A.

By Hiart (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Terracotta plaque of a yakshi (female nature spirit),  Bengal, 3rd-2nd century B.C, Honolulu Academy of the Arts, U.S.A.

By Hiart – Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17609527

 

References :

 

 

Posted by

Soma Ghosh

©author

 

 

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Yaksha-yakshi depictions : benevolent spirits

             Yaksha and Yakshi are nature spirits. They are usually benevolent mythical beings; and attendees of Kubera, the Lord of Yakshas and Yakshis.They have been depicted in sculpture,paintings and illustrations in India and few countries of Asia. They find place in Hindu, Buddhist and Jain mythology.

   In Hinduism Yakshas have a dual personality.They could be benevolent and friendly or could be offensive like a rakshasa or demon. Yakshas are believed to be protectors of forests and villages. Yakshas are depicted as strong warriors or as stout,short figures with a big belly. In contrast Yakshis are projected as very beautiful with gentle faces, full hips, rounded breasts and slender waists.The thirty six yakshis who grant desires mentioned in the Uddamareshwara tantra are Vichitra, Hamsi,Shankhini,Kapalini ,Mahendri,Vishala among others.

    In Buddhist lore, Yakshas are the attendants of Vaisravana. They are the twelve generals who guard Bhaisajyaguru, the Medicine Buddha. They are a main part of the folklore of Thailand and are guardian deities in their temples-gates, the dwarapalas. The yakshis became salabhanjikas holding on to a  ashoka tree-branch or a flowering tree depicted majorly at the gates of many Buddhist monuments and Hindu temples. They were associated with fertility and prosperity.

      In Jainsim the Yakshas  and Yakshis are guardian duties around the jinas. Over time they have come to be woshipped too. There are twenty four yakshas in Jainism. Gomukha,Trimukha,Mahayaksha,Yakshanayaka,Tamburu,Kusuma,Dharanendra,Matanga,Vijaya, Ajita,Gomedh among others. The twenty four yakshis include Chakreswari,Ambika,Manasi, Jaya among others.

Yaksha Vyala, sculpture,1st century B.C,Government Museum, Mathura.

Biswarup Ganguly [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Yakshi,plaque,terracotta, 3-2nd century B.C, Bengal.

By Hiart (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

File:Yaksha Carrying Human Figure and Mudgar - 2nd Century BCE - Government Museum - Mathura 2013-02-24 6090.JPG

Yaksha depiction carrying human being,2nd century B.C,Government Museum, Mathura.

Biswarup Ganguly [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

File:Yakshi - Railing Pillar - 2nd Century CE - Sand Stone - Mathura - Indian Museum - Kolkata 2012-11-16 1962.JPG

Yakshi,sandstone,2nd century,Mathura, Indian Museum, Kolkata.

Biswarup Ganguly [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Maharaja Chhatrasal Museum Dhubela Exhibit Item (5).JPG

Yaksha Gomedh with Ambika,sculpture,11th century,Maharaja Chhatrasal Museum, Dhubela, Madhya Pradesh.

By Sagar Das, Rosehub – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45605239

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Yaksha Gomukha with his consort,sandstone,Gurjara Pratiharas, 8th century, North India.

By Davide Mauro (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

File:Nswag, india, madhya pradesh, stele con yaksha-yakshini e jinas, XI sec..JPG

Yaksha-yakshi,sculpture,11th century, Madhya Pradesh.

I, Sailko [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

Yaksha,,Angkor Wat,12th century,Cambodia.

By Tsui (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

File:Yaksha General Anila - Google Art Project.jpg

Yaksha Anila, painting on cloth, 15th century,Tibet.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Kalpasutra manuscript,15th century,pigment on paper, second image depicts birth of Mahavira watched over by goat headed Yaksha,Naigamesha.

Walters Art Museum [Public domain, CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Yaksha Thotsakan,Thai Ramakien depiction,mural,18th century,Wat Phra Kaew,Bangkok,Thailand.

By Heinrich Damm (User:Hdamm, Hdamm at de.wikipedia.org) (Own work (Own photo)) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

References :

  • wikipedia.org

 

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

© author