This is Rama sitting in Ardhapadmasana. His right hand is showing Vitarka mudra (espousing knowledge) and his left hand is resting on his knee in royal ease.
Rama is sitting on an inverted lotus which in turn is supported by a rectangular pedestal. A typical construction. Rama is framed by a tree as an aureole, with three cobras in the middle. The tree reminds me of the Tree of Life, an example from Nelson Atkins museum, Kansas. As shown on our right.
Ornaments include his crown, three necklaces, earrings, armbands (one in the upper arm and one in the lower arm), wrist bands and anklets. This is probably the first time I have come across bands in the lower arm. Rama’s upper body is bare except for necklaces and the sacred thread. He is wearing a full-length lower garment. See the profile, Rama is leaning back in a relaxed, self-assured and relaxed way.
The selling auction house had listed it as Siva as an ascetic. My identification as Rama is based on his crown Vs Siva’s Jata makuta, the earrings are of the same design (Siva wears Makara Kundala and Patra kundala as earrings), and his two arms.
This Vigraha is about 16 cm in height (including the aureole) and it is from Kerala. The auction house mentioned the Vigraha could be dated to the 14th-15th century.
Note: This is one of the few Vigrahas for which I have some details on the previous owner.
This was in The James and Marilynn Alsdorf Collection, Chicago and was acquired before 1996. It was on lean to Art Institute of Chicago since 1996.