Roundel with Mermaids and Lotus

Roundel with Mermaids and Lotus

c. 100 BC

Ivory

Diameter: 10.5 cm (4 1/8 in.); Overall: 2.5 cm (1 in.)

Gift of John Eskenazi in honor of Dr. Stanislaw J. Czuma 2010.295

Description

This ivory disk was possibly part of a massive earring around which lobes were stretched so that they rest on the shoulders. Eight figures that are half woman and half fish hold hands in a ring around a series of concentric circles containing floral imagery. Their hands and tails make the repeated form of an auspicious trident-shaped symbol, often depicted with fish tails in combination with a lotus flower. The full-breasted forms, the tails, and the lotus flowers evoke the imagery of life-giving waters. A circle of eight female figures later comes to refer to the maidens of the eight directions of the sky (ashtadikpalikas).

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