Kashmir Censer by Utpala dynasty

This censer, one of a very small number of ritual bronze objects from medieval Kashmir, demonstrates the high level of sophistication and skill of metalworkers in that area.

Details

Medium:
Copper alloy
Dimensions:
Height: 19.2 cm
Art Fund grant:
£30,000 ( Total: £160,256)
Acquired in:
2011
Vendor:
Private collector

It would have been used to dispense aromatic smoke during temple rituals, and takes the form of a four-armed flying male celestial figure carrying a hinged covered bowl for the burning incense powder or resin. The figure is clad in a dhoti, which is clearly visible around his knees and lower legs, while a sacred thread can be seen on his left shoulder. He kneels on his left leg with the foot bent back behind the body, while the right leg is thrust out behind; this would have formed the beginning of a handle, but everything from the right knee downwards has been lost. It has been suggested that the figure is the leader of the gandharvas, the band of musicians and servers who attend the gods. The piece is covered with floral imagery, which would have been appropriate for a temple vessel dispensing sweet perfume. The museum plans to display it in the Joseph Hotung Gallery, and to send it out on tour to its partner museums in the regions.

Provenance

Through Dr. John Siudmak.

Venue details

British Museum Great Russell Street, LONDON London WC1B 3DG 020 7323 8299 www.britishmuseum.org

Entry details

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