Surya with attendants

Four armed Surya

This four-armed idol is Surya, the Sun God. Surya is identified by the lotuses in his hands. The other two arms on resting on the nimbi of the attendants, Pingala and Dandi. The attendants look up to Surya. Reminds me of the Vishnu bronzes from Kashmir, where the Ayudhapurushas look up to Vishnu.Four armed Surya back

Four-armed Suya idols are rare. This idol is special for several other reasons as well.

This Surya is very similar to an example in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA),  M.84.223.2, with the exception the subject of this blog is slightly shorter but is more complete as the front arms with Lotus are intact.

Vishnudharmottarapurana compiled in Kashmir during the fourth and seventh centuries prescribes iconography of four-armed Surya.

  • The front arms should be holding lotuses.
  • Other two arms should be placed on the attendants’ heads.
  • There should be a standard bearing a lion banner placed near God.

As is the case in this example. In addition, here Surya is wearing long robe and boots in North Indian style. The dagger suspended across his lower torso, an adaptation from Sahi martial attire, reinforces regional attribution.

The rear view shows the rear arms more clearly. Quite unusual to see the patterns on the backside.

The LACMA example is attributed to Kashmir or Afghanistan and is dated to the eighth century. In my view, those assignments will apply to this example as well. This idol is about 8 cm in height.

Metropolitan Museum also has an example of four-armed Surya.

Note: This blog used material from the book Indian Sculpture Volume II of LACMA collection by Dr Pratapaditya Pal.  The LACMA Surya could be found on page 58 of that book, Catalogue item number 2.

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