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Female torso

11th century


Unknown Artist


Most likely the torso of a celestial woman or 'surasundari', this sculpture embodies the Indian ideals of feminine beauty: full, spherical breasts set close, narrow wasp-like waist, ample hips and elaborate jewellery that accentuates the soft tactility of the flesh. This kind of representation of the feminine was included in the iconographic program of the Hindu temple in order to improve its power.

The Asian Collections, AGNSW, 2003, pg.22.

Founded early in the ninth century, the Chandella dynasty, one of thirty-six Rajput clans, was a major regional power by the tenth century. This female figure undoubtedly was part of the luxurious surface decoration typical of the external walls of Chandella religious monuments. The figure may be a 'yakshi', a female nature spirit whose erotic, sensual forms, charged with suggestions of fertility, were lovingly carved by medieval Indian sculptors.

Excerpt from Art Gallery Handbook, 1999. pg. 289.


Place where the work was made

Madhya Pradesh India


11th century

Media category


Materials used

carved sandstone


53.0 cm

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Margaret Hannah Olley Art Trust 1990


Not on display

Accession number


Shown in 2 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 6 publications


Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Asian Collection: South Asia', pg. 288-297, Sydney, 1999, 289 (colour illus.).

Gauri Parimoo Krishnan, Goddess: Divine Energy, 'Nature goddesses', pg. 23-33, Sydney, 2006, 24 (colour illus.). cat. no. 9

Jackie Menzies, The Art Gallery of New South Wales collections, 'Asian Art - India, South-East Asia, China, Tibet, Korea, Japan', pg. 173-228, Sydney, 1994, 178 (colour illus.).

Jackie Menzies (Editor), The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'The Realm of the Hindu Gods', Sydney, 2003, 22 (colour illus.).

Pratapaditya Pal, Orientations, 'Sensuous Spirituality: Hindu and Buddhist Art from the Indic Cultural Realm', pg. 80-87, Hong Kong, Sep 2000, 85 (colour illus.). fig.10

Editor Unknown (Editor), Margaret Olley Art Trust, Sydney, circa 1994, colour illus..