Sambandar (?)


SambandarThis was sold as Sambandar, a Saivite saint.

The story: Sambandar as a child of three years was left unattended by his father as he went to take bath in a temple tank. Feeling hungry Sambandar started crying. Siva and Parvati appeared before him and gave him a bowl of milk. On his return, Sambandar’s father wanted to know how Sambandar got the milk. Sambandar pointed up indicating the direction from which Siva and Parvati appeared. Hence the mirth and dance with right-hand index finger pointing upwards.Sambandar (Back)

According to Vidhya Deheja, in Slaves of the Lord, there are three forms of Sambandar

1) Standing child with a cup in left hand and right hand pointing upwards, 2) Standing child holding cymbals and 3) Dancing child with fingers of right hand pointing upwards.

In this bronze, all-important hand index finger is pointing upwards and there is a discernible lifting of his head. It appears the right hand is holding a spherical object, possibly a cup, rather than the left hand.

One of the popular images of Krishna is dancing Krishna, holding butter ball in his right hand and left hand raised to shoulder level. In some images, the right-hand shows Abhaya (protection) mudra. But there is no finger pointing upwards in Krishna figures.

Right-hand finger pointing upwards and noticeable lifting of head, suggests this may be Sambandar. It looks like this bronze combines the iconography and the questions about identification persist.

I have come across a similar bronze, with minor differences, sold by an Indian auction house and that image was identified as Krishna and was described as a Chola bronze from 13th century.

This icon here and the one mentioned above are standing on the right toe rather than foot right and the left leg is lifted all the way to knee height, as compared to calf height. Quite athletic.

The way the deity is attached to peetha is typical of bronzes from Tamil Nadu. Well, Sambandar as a saint is worshipped mainly in Tamil Nadu. This bronze is almost certainly from Tamil Nadu.

It is quite possible this was made in the late eighteenth century or later for overseas market or for non-Indian patrons. There is age to it.

This bronze is about 21 cm in height.



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