A yogini bearing a jar. One of 19 known sculptures from a set originating in Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu, India.

Yogini with a jar, early 10th century

Unknown artist, expand_more

Throughout the subcontinent and within its many indigenous faiths, the goddess, or devi, is worshiped as a manifestation of life-giving female energy. Here, a goddess known as a yogini gracefully demonstrates full control of breath and body. Her hands hold a jar, possibly containing medicine, and a wand, suggesting her curative capabilities. Her now-broken bottom left limb would have held a skull cup for drinking liquor or blood, signaling her ferocity. She is also believed to possess powers of flight, to which the faintly etched bird beneath her right foot might allude.

This sculpture was once enshrined in a circular open-air temple, with at least 15 other yoginis, each believed to possess magical powers. Together they would have formed a sacred space and potential site for tantric, or esoteric, Hindu (Brahmanical) rituals in which a devotee sought union with the divine.

Details
Title
Yogini with a jar
Role
Artist
Accession Number
60.21
Curator Approved

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A yogini bearing a jar. One of 19 known sculptures from a set originating in Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu, India.