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Railing Pillar with Yakshi, 2nd century

India: Uttar Pradesh, Mathura, 100-199
28-1/2 x 7-1/2 x 2-1/2 in. (72.4 x 19.1 x 6.4 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation, from the Estate of Jennifer Jones Simon
© Norton Simon Art Foundation

On view

Yakshi, pan-Indian female nature spirits, are often depicted on the facades of monuments, as they are symbols of fecundity. This yakshi figure is carved on a railing pillar, indicated by the almond-shaped sockets on either side. The sockets would have accommodated horizontal stone crossbars, suggesting that masons looked to wooden structures as models for early stone monuments.

Although this yakshi is depicted with voluptuous contours and is gesturing in a suggestive manner, she was likely part of a Buddhist stupa (reliquary mound). It was not unusual to see yakshi imagery on Buddhist monuments, as they were important pan-Indian deities.

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