Carved relief panel, mottled red Sandstone, Mathura, Eastern India, 2nd century AD
Height: 20.9 in, Width: 7.8 in, Depth: 4.5 in
Part of a stupa railing pillar. Mottled red sandstone. The pillar has been split down the centre and only part of the outer face remains, showing a yakshi standing in a flexed posture with the left hand resting on the hip and right (now missing) raised as though to grasp the branches of a tree. She wears a muslin dhoti supported by a three-stranded girdle, a necklace, earrings and bracelets.
Sotheby sale on 20th May 1964. Formerly in the collection of Mr. Fred Olsen. RP:64/1368,
Historical significance: Yakshis are tree spirits assimilated into the art of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism from a much older folk tradition associated with fertility cults. Their strongly emphasized sexuality was originally symbolic of the magic forces of fertility. They were commonly depicted on the railings around Buddhist stupas, making out the path which the pilgrims had to circumambulate.
This relief of a female figure (yakshi) is carved against a narrow oblong back slab broken off at her knee level and along the top The figure stands in tribanga pose flexed at the hip, with her left arm resting on her jutting-out hip. Although the carving is badly worn, it is possible to distinguish a necklace round her throat and long earrings reaching her shoulders. She is nude save for a broad girdle round her hips from which hangs a dupatta falling down in folds behind her on her left side. A row of diagonal ridges to her right may be the continuation of this garment tied on the other side.
There are traces of elliptical mortices for horizontal members of the railing on either side of the pillar.