Large Black Stone Stele of Surya

SKU: MS.0114

Origin: Northeastern India
Circa: Pala period, 11th - 12th century AD
Dimensions: 36" Height (91.4 cm)
Medium: Stone

Standing with both hands raised with palms out holding the stems of lotuses blossoming above the shoulders, dressed in a striated dhoti and adorned with various jewelry and the sacred thread, the face with steady gaze centered by a whorl of hair at the forehead and surmounted by a tall headdress, flanked by Agni and Rudra and their wives, with celestial apsaras above and the seven white horses that pull his chariot below.


Private collection, Europe, acquired in London, 5 May 1989

Surya, god of the sun, is among the most ancient of Indian deities. Recognizable by his two raised palms holding the stems of lotuses, his booted feet, and the team of horses arrayed beneath him, Surya's identity is made abundantly clear. While representations of Shiva, Vishnu, and various Buddhist deities may take multiple forms in Pala India, figures of Surya achieve a remarkable range of artistic flourishes despite their consistent iconography. Here, the artist has clearly indicated that the deity rides in the chariot that ushers the sun across the sky by placing two diminutive charioteers directly between Surya's feet.

For a closely related example in the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A: IM.109-1916), see J. Guy, Indian Temple Sculpture, 2007, p.152, cat. no. 171.



Large Black Stone Stele of Surya


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