Mithuna, a pair of celestial lovers, black chlorite schist, Orissa, Eastern India, 13th century.
Height: 12 in, Length: 6.5 in, Width: 3.625 in
Purchased in 1949, from Ernest Schwaiger, son of the late Imre Schwaiger, who believed the piece came from 'Rajputana', roughly analogous with modern-day Rajasthan. Mr Imre Schwaiger was a noted dealer in Indian art, whom the V&A Director, Sir Leigh Ashton, described as' the celebrated Indian dealer, portrayed by Kipling as Mr Jacob'. At the outset of the World War II a number of works of art belonging to him were deposited on loan to the Indian Section.
The rectangular slab is carved with an aedicule on a tri-partite pedestal which frames a pairs of lovers (mithunas) embracing. The bearded man wears a conical headdress criss-crossed with beads. He twists his body round to his right and holds onto the drapery encircling the woman's hips with his left hand and cups his other hand round the large bun at the back of her head. She, in turn, reaches up to him with her arms round his shoulders. The aedicule has a pair of rounded tapering pillars with annular decoration set on rectangular plinths. The pedestal comprises three tiers of cushion mouldings separated by cavetto mouldings with a central projection.
A pair of embracing celestial lovers, (mithunas) from a door jamb of the Surya Temple, Konarak., Orissa. They reflect the importance of concepts of pairs embodied in Brahmanical liturgy and have also been described more specifically as
symbolizing the union of purusha (essence) and prakriti (substance).