Ancient South Asia, eastern India, Bengal, Chandraketugarh, ca. 200 BCE to 100 BCE. A lovely intricately hand-carved mirror handle of petrified bone of a bovine or ungulate depicting two bare-breasted women wearing lungis and a demon-like dwarf. Both women exhibit voluptuous hourglass figures, almond-shaped eyes, flat noses, pursed bow lips, and are heavily adorned in large circular earrings, hair ornaments, sizable collar necklaces, and multiple layers of beaded bangles. The standing woman wears a translucent lungi revealing her genitalia and embellished with registers of jewels at her hips as she holds one hand to her stomach and links the other dancer. Placing her hands atop his head, the second woman sits on the shoulders of the dwarf who presents with a bulbous belly, petaloid ears, and striated face. Both wear striped lungis. Due to the hedonistic nature of this procession, this dwarf may be Apasmara or Muyalaka, a Hindu dwarf demon who represents spiritual ignorance and nonsensical speech, while the women may be apsaras, cloud and water spirits, or yakshinis, grove spirits. The piece is rich with decorative elements; a border of stars flanks the scene above and below as a column of abstract vegetal motifs separates the two women on one side. A sensuous scene of frivolity from ancient India! Size: 1" W x 3.65" H (2.5 cm x 9.3 cm); 4.125" H (10.5 cm) on included custom stand.
Provenance: private Hawaii, USA collection; ex Hirsch collection, Germany
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Repaired from a few large pieces, with light adhesive residue and a couple of stable hairline fissures along break lines. Minor nicks to peripheries and figures, with light softening to some finer details, and darkening to bone color commensurate with age. Light earthen deposits in some recessed details.