A Chola bronze figure of Krishna
12th / 13th century, South India
Height: 58 cm, 22.8 inches
At first glance, this lively young dancing boy could be either the saint Sambandar or the young Krishna (a descendant of Vishnu). Krishna is also sometimes depicted in almost identical pose - his left arm extended to the side, one leg bent with the foot firmly planted on a lotus pedestal, and the other leg raised. However, Krishna seems always to be depicted with his right leg raised, as in this bronze figure - whereas Sambandar is traditionally depicted with raised left leg. Krishna's right hand is often sculpted in abhaya hasta (signifying assurance and protection) but also exists with the finger pointing gesture. It seems likely, therefore, that this is the young dancing Krishna.
The modelling is lively and fluid, and renders a sense of grace, movement and playfulness. The dancing figure is almost naked - apart from an ornamentation of kinkini sara (a girdle of bells), necklaces, sacred cord, armbands, anklets, finger rings, earrings and siraschakra, or lotus flower, that adorns the back of the head; his headdress is in the form of a tall jata-mukuta. The tiered integral square base beneath the lotus pedestal has two carrying rings to each side.