We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


Surya, the sun god

early 11th century


Unknown Artist

  • Details

    Place where the work was made
    West Bengal India
    Pala Period circa 760 - 1142 → India
    early 11th century
    Media category
    Materials used
    56.0 cm x 24.0 cm
    Signature & date

    Not signed. Not dated.

    Gift of Mr S. Matsuno 1995
    Not on display
    Accession number

    Reproduction requests

  • About

    Surya, the universal sun god, is one of the five principal deities of the Hindu pantheon (together with Shiva, Vishnu, Ganesha and Devi). He is identified with Saturn in the worship of the nine planets ('navagrahas'). Worship of Surya has been prevalent in India from very early times (c. third millennium BC). In the early Kushana period (c. first/second century AD) under Iranian influence, there emerged in North India the form of Surya as seen in this relief - the deity in a frontal position, carries full blown lotuses in his hands, and stands on a chariot to which are yoked seven horses. In this symmetrically stele, Surya is crowned by a kirtimukha and accompanied by his two consorts Ushas (Dawn) and Chaya (Shade). Two male attendants Danda (staff) and Pingala (scribe) are also depicted.

    Asian Art Department, AGNSW, March 1995

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 1 exhibition

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 1 publication

    • S.B.Singh, Arts of Asia, 'SURYA: The universal sun god', pp 83-87, Hong Kong, Nov 1994-Dec 1994, 83-87.