Hariti (Possibly Sasthi?)


SasthiA Mother Goddess with a child. Her identification proves to be an ongoing work. In my research, came across names and examples of several Goddesses holding a child and it includes Sasthi, Hariti, Ambika, Parvati, Manasa, Durga, Simhavahini, Purneshwari, Yasodha, Maheshwari, Indrani and Sakambhari.sasthi back

The styling and iconography narrow the origin of this bronze to Eastern Indian states (Bihar and Bengal) and the period to that influenced by Pala or Pala.

Here we see the two-armed the Goddess sitting in Ardhaparyanka supporting the child on her left lap. She is holding a spherical object in her right hand and her left hand is resting on her left knee. She is full-breasted and wearing the usual set of ornaments. The halo (broken) suggests divine nature of the subject. The tiara and conical crown suggest Eastern India origin.

The rim of the base is worked on and the back is not worked on. There is an indistinct object on the rim on her right (See the picture of the back).

This bronze could be Sasthi, the giver of children, assists at childbirth and is the guardian of young children. “She presides over the rites which are performed on the sixth day of the birth of the child for the sake of securing its well being and hence is known as Sasthi” – quote from Bengal Sculptures Hindu Iconography upto 1250 AD by Enamul Haque. The above book has some examples as well.

The other possibility is that she is Hariti, Buddhist goddess who is a protector of children. The spherical object in her right hand, assuming it is a lemon, links her to Jambhala. Examples of such references can be found in Eastern Indian Bronzes published by Lalit Kala Academy and in The Early Bronzes of India by Kamini Sinha.

It is generally accepted that Buddhist icons do not have vahanas and if the ‘blob’  at the side is indeed a vahana then the figure is Sasthi. But in terms of iconography, this bronze is closer to the examples of Hariti in the references quoted above.

This bronze is just 4.5 cm in height and it is from Eastern India (Bihar or Bengal) and probably dates to the eleventh century.



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