late 900s–1000s
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The back of the sculpture retains the original textured surface from a pointed chisel, suggesting it was in a niche or near a wall, protected from worshippers’ touches.


In the Hindu pantheon Brahma is in charge of carrying out the work of creation. In this tour-de-force of South Indian temple sculpture, he is in a special regal aspect, with the only elements of his typical priestly appearance being the prayer beads and the matted dreadlocks piled on his head.

Four arms connote superhuman power, and four heads convey the idea that his creative activities spread in all four directions. His upper right hand enjoins freedom from fear, and the lower holds a lotus bud associated with birth and the process of creation. His lowered left hand is held in the gift-giving gesture, suggestive of the gift of creation he will bestow upon the world.


late 900s–1000s

South India, Tamil Nadu, Chola dynasty, late 10th - early 11th century



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