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18th C. North Indian Red Sandalwood Ragini Figure

$4,995.00
Central Asia, Northern India, ca. 18th century CE. A stunning, stylized effigy of a Hindu ragini, a female musician known for playing traditional music in an enlivened manner. Hand-carved from finely-grained red sandalwood, the nude woman stands atop wide feet and separated legs which trace upwards to ample hips and delineated genitalia. Her slender waist and ample bosom define her inherent femininity, and draped arms bear a trio of leafy bracelets on each wrist. Her almond-shaped eyes are set beneath high-arching brows and flank a prominent nose above full lips and rounded cheeks, with intricate floral earrings hanging from the drooping lobe of each sizable ear. Her coiffure is neatly parted down the center and leads to a lengthy plait which drapes down to her posterior. She holds a simple stringed instrument in her right hand – similar to the Indian sitar - and thin finger picks in her left. A beautiful example covered in traces of red pigment. Size: 3.75" W x 9.8" H (9.5 cm x 24.9 cm).

Ragini (translated as "colored" or "impassioned") are a very important subject in Hindu art, and were depicted in statue form, friezes, and miniature paintings. The ragini were usually depicted in sets of twelve – representative of the twelve months of the year – called a "ragmala;" the pins at the bottoms of the feet of this figure suggest she was part of a ragmala.

This figure most likely originates from the Himachal region, based on the overall style, though the exact region of origin is unknown. The erotic nature of the carving – with her ample breasts and exposed genitalia – is indicative of its age. A certain form of conservatism took root after the Islamic and British Colonial periods in India, and most openly erotic sculpture is generally older.

Condition: Losses to a few toes, tenons, and neck of veena. Surface wear and minor abrasions commensurate with age, one stable hairline fissure along back, small chips to back of veena, feet, chest, and head, with fading to pigmentation traces. Light earthen deposits, traces of red pigmentation, and lustrous patina throughout.

Provenance: private House of Indus collection

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