STYLE: Repoussé images such as this one are rare in Western collections. The figure is composed of multiple parts, the seams largely hidden by applied jewelry. Originally this relief sculpture was mounted against a wooden backboard that also represented the figure’s halo. The jewelry, including the long necklace falling over the breasts and the wide bracelets, is typical for later Nepalese sculpture. The body and limbs are rather elongated, and the head is small. The dress is transparent revealing the legs in full, and due to the technique her skirt is represented at the back of the legs. Compared to earlier Nepalese sculpture, later sculptures such as this one increasingly lose their sense of movement.
CONTENT: Although it does not preserve any of its iconographic signifiers, this sculpture can be securely identified by on-site comparisons as representing the river goddess Yamuna. She was once standing on a turtle and holding a water vessel in her outstretched right hand. The goddess originally stood at the right side of an entrance to a temple and formed a pair with a sculpture of the goddess Ganga on the opposite side, their stances and gestures directed towards the entrance. The visit of these personifications of the holiest Indian rivers to the temple confers ritual purity and makes the temple itself a guarantor of plenty.