A sandstone head

Madhya Pradesh, 10th century, India

Height: 20 cm, 7.9 inches

This distinctive face is probably that of a celestial maiden, or ‘apsara’, and is very similar to those found at the Khajuraho temples – as well as Surwaya temples (both sites in Madhya Pradesh, Central India).

Her open, almond-shaped eyes have dramatically arching brows that are sculpted in raised curving lines, almost meeting at the bridge of her long straight nose. The mouth, with full bottom lip, forms a faint smile above a pointed chin. Her ears are adorned with heavy, circular earplug-type earrings at each lobe.

The elaborate twisted, curled, bejewelled and braided coiffure covers half her forehead and flows behind her ears to gather at the nape of the neck; it is surmounted by an ornate conical headdress.

Similar Examples

Gods, Guardians, and Lovers: Temple Sculptures from North India A.D. 700-1200, published by The Asia Society Galleries, New York in association with Mapin Publishing Pvt. Ltd., Ahmedabad, 1993 – pages 160 & 161; also pages 211 and 213.

The Erotic Sculpture of Khajuraho, by Kanwar Lal, published by Asia Press, Delhi, 1970

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