You are on page 1of 16

An Indian Statuette from Pompeii

Author(s): Mirella Levi D'Ancona
Source: Artibus Asiae, Vol. 13, No. 3 (1950), pp. 166-180
Published by: Artibus Asiae Publishers
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3248502 .
Accessed: 17/10/2011 13:28
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at .
http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp
JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of
content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms
of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.

Artibus Asiae Publishers is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Artibus Asiae.

http://www.jstor.org

MIRELLA LEVI D'ANCONA:
AN INDIAN

ONE

STATUETTE

FROM POMPEII

OF THE MOST SURPRISING DISCOVERIES MADE IN POMPEII WAS A FEMALE

ivory statuette of Indian workmanship(fig.i). Maiuri,the Italianscholar who discovered the
statuette in 1938 and published an account of it,' offered an explanation of how the statuette
came to be found in Pompeii, a city placed far from the trade routes to the East. He mentioned the active trade between the Roman Empire under the Emperor Nero and India, the
Roman coins found on Indian soil, and, finally, the Nabataean community that settled not
far from Pompeii, at Pozzuoli. Maiuri is the only scholar who devoted a lengthy study to
the statuette. Besides its history, he discussed the style and the iconography. He identified
the figure with the Indian goddess Laksml, connected the ivory on stylistic grounds with
the school of Mathurd,and dated it around 20-50 A. D. The reasons given for such a date
were the fact that the statuette shows a cruder realism than was characteristicfor the style
of the flourishing Sufiga period (I85-72 B. C.), and also that the house in Pompeii in which
the ivory was found is a structure dating probably from the period of Nero (54-58 A. D.).
The last reason is not very convincing, because the statuette might have been carved before
the construction of the house in which it was found, and brought there later. Maiuri concluded his study stating that the statuette is a pure product of Indian art: "Comunque essa
e, formalmente e stilisticamente, uno schietto prodotto di arte indiana, senza alcuna influenza ellenistica: completamente estranea, anche religiosamente, all'arte greco-buddistica di
Gandhdra".2This last statement is not very clear. If what is meant is simply that the statuette
*

This paper is a revision of one part of the material presented as an M.A. thesis at Bryn Mawr College.
I would like to express my gratitude to Dr. Alexander C. Soper of Bryn Mawr College for the assistance
he has given me in the preparation of the paper. I am also grateful to Dr. Rhys Carpenter for suggestions
on Classical iconography, to Mrs. Berenice Morrill who suggested possible relationships between the ivory
statuette and the Begram ivories, and to Miss Dee Long of Sweet Briar College who revised the English
form of the paper. For illustrations thanks are due to Artibus Asiw.
1
A. Maiuri, "Statuetta eburnea di arte indiana a Pompei", Le arti, anno I, 1938-39, pp. 111-115.
2
Maiuri, ibid., p. 114.
166

:

_........_
:

i:

: :~: :::::-:~-iiii:::
:
i: ~a~3

-~ -

~P--Q Ie rsara~"-~

-

IrPs(s~l

_::-:

~3L38

i :

.'.
:t

j

I i

~a~i~

~i~*b~

~ET~B~

L

~

I I

i

~

I

~1-I

ir

~9.~li~d~~

i

a

Fig. I Ivory statuette from Pompeii
Collection Museo Nazionale di Napoli

is to be dated by its style earlier than works from the school of Gandhara, the assertion is
perfectly legitimate. If, instead, what is meant is that the style and iconography of the work
do not show any Classicalinfluence, the statement must not be taken too literally.
This paper will discuss the iconography and style of the statuette, and through this discussion will attempt to show that:
i) The iconography is a mixture of Indian and Classical themes.
2)

The statuette is more advanced in style than the traditional works of the Sufiga-Andhra
167

period, and is stylisticallyrelated,instead,to some ivory statuettesfrom Begramin Afghanistan,
and to early works from Mathurs.
3) The ivory is datable in the first part of the first century A. D.
The statuette (m. 0,25) is representedin the round, a large figure standingbetween two
small female attendants, with its large head turned to one side, the legs stiffly crossed, one
arm bent to hold the heavy earrings, and the other bent backwards behind the head. It is
extremely flat, when examined from the sides, and evidently was only meant to be looked
from the front and the back. Except for the jewelry and the flat band worn above the
girdle, the figure is naked.
The iconography falls into the broad category of representations of female deities in India,
although, because of the presence of the two attendant figures and the absence of any
individually disctinctive symbol, the statuette is not a common Indian type. She represents
neither the usual type of the Yaksi nor that of Laksmi, these two divinities being the most
widely represented goddesses in India. That she is meant to be a goddess is shown by the
profusion of the jewelry, and by the presence of the mekhala(jeweled belt), a long-life charm
generally worn by Yaksis. The Yaksi3 is a goddess of fertility, abundance,and vegetation and
is usually supported by a water animal or connected with a tree. The title of Yaksi includes
several types of divinities, great or small. In her capacity as an agriculturaldivinity the
Yaksi is connected with water, and often has the attribute of a lotus flower or the vehicle
of a water animal, such as the tortoise or the makara monster. When associated with the
lotus flower, the Yaksi is easily confused with Laksmi,who, although not specificallya Yaksi,
is, however, sometimes connected with the Yaksi cult. The standingfigurewithout attributes
'
represented on a railing pillar at Bhdrhut could easily be taken for a Yaksi were it not
specifically labeled by an inscription as "SirimdDevats" (goddess mother Sri).
Sri and Laksmi are but one person, as shown by Coomaraswamy5 in the discussion of
literary sources for the representation of the goddess. Sri-Laksmi, the goddess of beauty
3

A. K. Coomaraswamy, "Yaksas", I, Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections,lxxx, n. 6, Washington, 1929,

pp. 1-43.
4 L. Bachhofer, Early Indian Sculpture, i, pl. 21. The relief is fragmentary, but Bachhofer thinks that the
figure might have held a lotus flower, because the stem is still visible in her right hand.
Indian Iconography, II, Sri Laksmi", Eastern Art, i, 1928, pp. 175-189.
5 A. K. Coomaraswamy, "Early

I68

7"-

....

ptP

4wvr
4R

Fig. 2

Relief from StfipaII at Sdiici

and abundance,is alwaysconnected with a lotus. Coomaraswamyhas distinguishedthree
types of representationsof LaksmIwith a lotus:
i) The goddessholds a lotus flower with the right handand rests the left on her hip.
2) She is supportedby a lotus in the form of a pedestalor of a seat.
3) She holds floweredlotus stalkswith both handsand is surroundedby lotuses.
A relief on a pillarfrom StiipaII at Si ici (fig.2), mentionedby Maiuriin connection with
the ivory statuettefrom Pompeii,'showsthe goddessstandingon a lotus flowerandholding
a floweredlotus stalkin one hand,whilesurroundedby lotusesand assistedby two servants
holdingtoilet articles.This exceptionaliconographycombines the featuresof the second
6

Maiuri, op. cit., pl. XIV, fig. 2.

169

and third types indicated by Coomaraswamy. The Pompeian ivory statuette, while lacking
the lotus flowers and pedestal, is of a type very similarto the representationat Sdficibecause
of the two small maid servants standing on either side of the goddess, who hold toilet
articles. This feature is very rare in early Indian sculpture, and it is thus evident that the
statuette from Pompeii stems from the same tradition to which belongs the Laksmi group
from Snfici. We shall presently see that this tradition probably was imported into India
from the Classical world. Two things are to be kept in mind: i) This representation from
Pompeii is not the usual type of Laksmias describedin the three categoriesof Coomaraswamy
because of the absence of the lotus which is an attribute of the goddess, the profusion of
lotus ornaments in the jewelry and headdress not being a sufficient identification of the
goddess. 2) The representation of Laksmi in the S ficT relief is exceptional in its time
because it shows the two attendant figures on either side. In addition, one of the two
servants has the fat proportions of the gana, the plump infant being which derives from
the Classical representations of the child Eros and which becomes common in Indian art
only with the Guptan period.7
Among the numerous illustrations of the different types of Laksmi in the article by
Coomaraswamy,5the relief from SdiTciis the only one in early Indian sculpture which has
the goddess Laksmi flanked by two attendant figures. This type of iconography was
popularized later in the Greco-Buddhist school of Gandhdra, in representations of the
Buddha assisted by two human or divine worshippers. The difference of scale became more
marked as the religious importance of the Buddha increased and the importance of the
worshippers decreased in proportion. From Buddhist or Jain representations in India, the
iconography of a large central figure flanked by two small attendants spread later to nonBuddhist representations.8 The rarity of the motif in early Indian art and its frequency in
A dwarfish human figure, similar in proportions to the ganza appears occasionally even earlier than the
Gupta period. It is seen, for instance, in some reliefs of style I at Amaravati, dated by Sivaramamurti ca.
200I oo B.C. (C. Sivaramamurti,Amarivati Sculptures in the Madras GovernmentMuseum..., Madras,1942).
This figure, however, has a different character from the
on account of its caricaturesque appearance.
ga.za
For
two
of
later
see:
examples
representations
Coomaraswamy, Yaksas, II, Washington, 1931, pl. 21, 2
s
(figures at the sides of the pillars in the Ramesvara Temple at Elura); pl. 19, 3 (Yamuna Devi, at Paharpur)
An example of Jina with two side figures is given by R. D. Banerji, "New Brahmi Inscriptions of the
7

170

Greco-Buddhist reliefs seems to point to a non-Indian origin for the motif. This iconography
is repeatedly used in the West for representationsof Aphrodite-Venus, the Classicalcounterpart of Laksmi. Representations of Venus flanked by two cupids holding toilet articles are
frequent in Roman art.' Both the Roman examples of Venus flanked by cupids, and the
Laksmi from Sd-hciflanked by female attendants, present the figures separated from each
other. The contrasting compactness of the Pompeii ivory group may be explained simply
as a limitation imposed by the shape of the tusk. On the other hand it may indicate a fusion
of two Classical Aphrodite types: that of the goddess between two erotes and another in
which she is alone, leaning against a pillar."' (The latter type is frequently found in Classical
art, being sometimes varied by substituting a caryatid as support."' In this case the two
figures of the goddess and the caryatid are placed close together). I have not been able to
trace any direct prototype for such a fusion in extant works of art from the early Classical
period, although it is quite possible that it existed. A late example of such iconography in
Roman art is given by an ivory relief from Alexandria.'2 The relief, datable from circa the
sixth century A. D., shows two small side figures placed very close to the body of a large
central one, as in the Pompeian example (though here too the proportions of the tusk may
have dictated the spacing).3
Scythian period", Epigraphia Indica, x, Calcutta, 1909-Io, p. og9 and pl. I. The statue is dated in the
year 9 of an unspecified era, and the characters are those of Northern Indian type current during the
Kushan period. For these reasons Banerji dates the sculpture in the Kaniska era. Two things, however,
are to be kept in mind. The author says that the form of the letter ma is unusual for the Kushan period,
but is common in the Guptan period; and the style of the figure, with its narrow hips and waist, long limbs
and broad shoulders, suggests the Guptan period rather than the early Kushan.
S. Reinach, Repertoirede la statuairegrecque et romaine, I, pp. 3
336, 35 I ; II, pp. 376-78; III, pp. II 5, etc.
See the terracotta figurines from Asia Minor and from Myrina in A. Kister, Diegriechischen Terrakotten,
Berlin, 1926, pls. 53, 81, 88, etc.
9

10

Reinach, op. cit., I, p. 341; II, pp. 334, 378, etc.
Reproduced in H. Peirce and R. Tyler, L'Art byzantin, ii, Paris, 1934, pl. 35, b. This ivory in the Museum
of Cluny is in general thought to represent Ariadne.
13 A gold plaque from Patna, datable in the Maurya period, shows Siva with his consort Parvati at his side
Journal of the Indian Society of Oriental Art, June 1934, pl. I). This composition is interesting because of
the relationship in size and position of the two figures, a relationship very similar to that of the two servants
to the central figure of the ivory from Pompeii.
11
12

17'

The mingling of the Western tradition of Aphrodite-Venus with the Eastern type of
Laksmi is not an impossible process, given the many features common to the two goddesses.
Both are supposed to have sprung from the water, and both are often associated with war.
The loves of Venus and Mars are a favorite theme in Classical mythology. The goddess
Sri is mentioned in the Indian epics as a godddess of fortune associatingherself with victorious kings or gods. It was a custom for the Greeks and the Romans to identify their own
gods with the local divinities of the peoples with whom they dealt. The identification of
Aphrodite with Laksmi would not be unusual. Several Indian divinities have been identified
with one or another of the deities of the Classical Pantheon.1" The identification of SriLaksmi with Aphrodite-Venus would explain why in the ivory statuette from Pompeii the
lotus flower, which is the enblem of the Indian goddess, is absent, and why, on the other
hand, two attendant figures are seen holding toilet articles, which figures were common in
the representations of Venus.'5
The statuette from Pompeii is but one of the many representations of Venus-Sri-Laksmi
which appearedin Indian art in the first century A. D. As a matter of fact, representations
of love scenes or of the goddess of love seem to have been a favorite subject in pre-Kushan
times in India. Many examples have been reproduced by Marshallin his reports on the
excavations at Sirkap.l"
Already in the Mauryan period Megasthenes, the Greek envoy to the Magadha court, identified two
Hindu gods with Herakles and Dyonisos. Later, examples of such identifications become more numerous.
The gradual process is best followed in the coins of Northwest India. Under the Bactrian rule Classical
gods with Greek inscriptions appeared on the obverse. Later on the figures remained, but the Greek
inscriptions disappeared, or were accompanied by Kharosthi legends. Finally the inscriptions labeled the
figures with names of Indian divinities (see A. Foucher, L'artgreco-bouddhiquedu Gandkhara,ii, Paris, 1918,
pp. 167 ff.). Groups from Mathura, probably of Buddhist inspiration, show figures similar to Silenus,
Bacchus, Hercules, etc. For identification of other Indian divinities with Classical gods see: Foucher, op.
14

cit., ii, pp. 167, 360, 494. etc.).
Literary evidence for the presence of Classical ("Yavana") artists, soldiers, and tradesmen in India in
the Kushan and pre-Kushan period is abundant. The main sources which discuss the trade between India
and the West are Pliny's Natural History, and the anonymous Periplus of the Erythraean Sea. For an
extensive discussion of the subject see: E. W. Warmington, The CommerceBetween the Roman Empire

15

and India, Cambridge, 1928.
Annual Reports, especially for the years 1912-13;
16 Sir J.Marshall,Archaeological Survey of India,
172

1919-20;

The statuettemust precede79 A.D., the date in which the town of Pompeiiwas buriedby
the eruptionof Mount Vesuvius. What remainsto be establishedis a terminuspost quem.
Maiuri dated the statuette ca. 20-5o A.D., simply because the work seemed to him to be
stylistically later than works from the "flourishing Suftga period". To acknowledge that a
work is later than 72 B. C. does not necessarily prove that it has to be dated from 20 to 50
A. D. The best approach to this problem is to compare the work with definitely dated
works of the preceding period and to indicate the difference in style.
Three main groups of sculptures from the Sufiga-Andhra period are dated by inscriptions
before the Christianera: I) The reliefs at Bhdrhut,datablearound 15oB. C. by an inscription
of the Sufiga dynasty." 2) The reliefs from Bodh Gays, datablealso by inscriptions around
100-5o B. C.'8 3) The Gateways from the main Stripa at STfici, which bear an inscription
from the reign of Sri Sdtakarni,in the second half of the first century B. C.'9 The ivory
statuette is manifestly later than any of these examples. It is later than the Yaksi representations from Bhirhut 20 because of its greater volume and the slight torsion of the body. In
1928-29; 1929-30 (this publication to be referred to hereafter as A. S. I.). The finds from Sirkap fall into
two categories for their iconography: the statuettes and the stone dishes. The stone dishes were destined
to contain cosmetics. Generally the dishes were divided into sections, one bearing reliefs, of various
subjects, mostly erotic scenes, and the rest being hollowed out to serve as container. The stone and metal
figurines are in general representations of Laksmi-Aphrodite, of the Hellenistic winged Aphrodite, or of
Eros and Psyche. Except for a relief found in the surface stratum of the town, of dubious interpretation,
all the finds from Sirkap seem to be of non-Buddhist subjects.
17 Bachhofer, Early Indian Sculpture, i, p. 20 and n. I, says that an inscription on the Eastern Gateway at
Bharhut mentions that it was erected by Dhanabuti under the Sufiga dynasty (185-72 B. C.). See also
Cunningham, The Stiipa of Barhit, London, 1879, p. 142.
as Bachhofer, ibid, and n. 5. The inscriptions were carved by request of the Queens Kuramgi and Nagadeva,
wives of the Kings Indramitra and Brahmamitra. Coins of these two Kings cannot be dated earlier than
the first century B. C. on account of the paleography of their inscriptions (A. K. Coomaraswamy, La sculpture de Bodh Gaya, Ars Asiatica XVIII, Paris, 1935, pp. Io-I I, dates the railing between 125 and 75 B. C.,
and some of the terminal railing-pillars in the first century B. C.).
19
Bachhofer, of. cit., i, p. 32. An inscription on the Southern Gate says that Anamda, overseer of the
artisans of the King Sri Satakarni, dedicated the sculptures. J. Marshall, "Excavations at Sanchi," A. S. I.,
1913-14, PP.4 ff., and A Guide to Sanchi, pp. 3 ff.,identifies Sri Satakarniwith the Andhra king of that name,
whose reign is datable ca. 20 or 15 B. C., and he proposes to date the sculptures in the latter half of the
20
first century B. C., a dating which seems to be universally accepted.
Bachhofer, op.cit., pl. 20.
173

Bhlrhut the parts of the body, the jewelry, and the headdress are flattened, and the expression of the faces is stereotyped, with expressionless eyes and straighteyebrows. The figures
are always represented in two dimensions and their outline is swelling at the shoulders and
hips, and sharply narrowed at the waist. The statuette from Pompeii has a smiling face,
with finely modeled parts, deep eye sockets, and eyes given expression by the indication
of the iris. Its movement is free, in spite of the stiffness of the limbs, and the figure is apparently conceived in three dimensions.
The reliefs from Bodh Gays show movement and volume, but the parts of the body are
treated as masses, and lack the sense of surface quality shown in the ivory statuette. The
figures show the sharp narrowing of the waist and the massive proportions of archaic art.
The difference of medium is not enough to explain the difference in conception and
technique of the two styles (compare for instance the rough and massive head of the Yaksi
reproduced by Bachhofer21 with the subtle modeling of the head in the ivory statuette from
Pompeii).
A Yaksi from Sdfici22 is similar to the Pompeii example in many respects. It shows the
same surface treatment of the fleshy parts, especially at the bend of the knee, and the same
type of ornaments: the flat band covering the jeweled girdle around the hips and tied on
the side, the heavy earrings and the broad band of anklets covering the leg almost to the
knee.23 In spite of these similarities, however, the ivory goddess from Pompeii is very
different from the Yaksi on the SdfcicTorana. The proportions of the former's body are
slenderer, to begin with; the position is stiffer,but with a stiffnessindicative of sophistication,
not of archaism. The subtle modeling of the face is quite differentfrom the smooth, round
head in the Yaksi from Sdfici, which has details slightly incised on the surface. Another
detail in the ivory statuette which is indicative of a later date is the placing of the arms
Ibid. i, pl. 39.
Reproducedby A. K. Coomaraswamy,Historyof Indian and IndonesianArt, New York, 1927, pl. XVI,
fig. 54.
23
It is interestingto note that an inscriptionon one of the piers of the SouthernGate at Saficispeaksof
the dedicationby, and of the partecipationof, ivory carversof Bhilsa in the carving of the stone reliefs:
"The workersin ivory of Vedisa have done the carving"(see V. Smith, A History of Fine Arts in India
and Ceylon,Oxford, 1911, P. 372, n. I). This might explain the fine surface quality of the Safici reliefs.
21
22

174

behindthe head, a feature which is elsewhere traceable mainly in later Indian art, in some
reliefs from Amardvati.2
The ivory statuette definitely shows features in common with the school of Mathurd, as
rightly said by Maiuri. The protruding chin, sunken eye sockets, full lips, the mouth placed
close to the nose, the wide open eyes, with the eyelids indicated by deeply incised double
lines, the cheeks which are sunk around the mouth and under the eyes, and the rounded
shape of the head--all these are features shown also in early works from the school of
Mathurd. They may be observed in the following examples: i) A Yaksi from Mathurd.25
26- which shows in addition the
2) The capital with human-headed animals from KMldarra
indication of the iris of the eye, as in the statuette from Pompeii. 3) The Buddhadedicated
by Friar Bala in the third year of Kaniska.27 The principal figure in the Amohini relief
from Mathurd,28 dated in the year 72 of an unknown era (if the Vikrama is used, as most
scholars believe, it is datable 14-15 A.D.) is also somewhat similar, although weathering of
the stone has made the features hard to distinguish. The general characteristicsdescribed
above are also present in the relief which shows, in addition, a similarityin the proportions
of the body: the elongated figure, the narrow shoulders, the hips slenderer than is general
24 J.Burgess, The Buddkist Topes of Amaravati and Taggayyapeta,London, 1887, (this publication to be
referred to hereafter as Amaravati) pl. XXXVIII, I (second scene at the left); pl. XXXIV,2 (first panel to
the left of the three besides the columns, central figure); pl. L, I (second figure to the right). See also:

Bachhofer, op. cit., pl. 13 I (lower relief, second figure to the right of the second panel at the right); pl. 122
figs. 3 and 4 (women to the left). To these examples might be added an undated example in the Mathura
style, reproduced by A. K. Coomaraswamy, Catalogue of the Indian Collections in the Museum of Fine
Arts, Boston, Part. II, Sculpture, Boston, 1923, pl. VI, N. 21.1715 and p. 49. Coomaraswamy indicates the
provenance of the Boston example, and suggests a date: "Aligarh district. First century A. D. or earlier".
In my opinion this example is not earlier than the Pompeii statuette, and is closely related to the "Holi
relief" (or Lon~sobhik plaque) reproduced by Bachhofer, op. cit., pl. 91, and dated by him "close of the
I century A. D." The figure in the Boston Museum is similar to the figure on the right of the "Holi relief"
for its style, for the type of earrings, and for the band of thin bracelets reaching almost the elbow.
25 J. Ph. Vogel, La Sculpture de Mathura, Ars Asiatica, XV, Paris
1930, pl. XII, to the right (this publication to be referred to hereafter as Mathurii).
26
27
28

Ibid. pl. XXIV b.
Ibid., pl. XXVIIIa.
Bachhofer, op. cit., ii, pl. 74.

175

in early Indian art; and the figure has the same kind of waist, broadly curving instead of
the sharply narrowed waist line of the early Indian examples, which looks as if the body
had been compressed by a narrow belt.
A peculiarity of the statuette from Pompeii is the way in which the legs are stiffly crossed,
without bending the knees. The same detail is shown in a relief from Amaravati, which
Codrington dates in the third or fourth century A. D.,29 and in a Begramivory, reproduced
by Hackin.30 It is interesting to note that both the reliefs from Amardvati and the ivories
from Begram show contacts with the school of Mathurd. In the case of Begram,the ancient
Kapisi,the connections with Mathurdare stronger, and this is explainable by the fact that
the former was an important trading center and also by the political situation of Kapisi.
The city of Begram, in the modern Afghanistan, was in the ancient times one of the most
important trading cities in the Near East. Situatedon a strategic point where the route from
Syria branched towards India and Central Asia, it was the distributing center of trade by
land towards India and China and vice versa, and was bound to gather products from both
the West and the East. The numerous examples of painted glass from the Near East and
the large number of Indian carved ivories found by Hackin" are a proof of the flourishing
state of the city. The stratification of the finds is not sure and a date between the first and
the third century A. D. has been proposed for the ivories. The style, however, permits to
reach a more definite date and to divide the ivories into two main groups: the sculptures
in the round, datable ca. in the first century A.D., and the reliefs and boxes with incised
designs, which are mostly datable in the second and third centuries A. D.32 The sculptures
in the round are all female representations, probably Yaksis. One of the Yaksis (fig. 3) is
particularlyinteresting for this paper because it is similarto the ivory statuette from Pompeii.
29

30

K. de B. Codrington and W. Rothenstein, Ancient India, London, 1926, pl. 27 A (figure to the right).
J. Hackin, Reckerches arche'ologiquesahBegram, ii, Paris, 1939, pl. XXXVII.

31 Ibid., passim.
32 This dating reached by stylistic reasons does not conflict with the chronology of the buildings in which
the ivories were found. Hackin, op. cit., did not indicate the exact stratification, but Ghirshman (R. Ghirshman,
Begram, Recherches archkologiqueset Iistoriques sur les KoucZans,Le Caire, 1946) proposed to date the
Eastern section of the city excavated by Hackin in the period of the first or second Kushan dynasty, that
is, from the first century A. D. to the third century A. D.

176

This Begram statuette is in a pitiful state of preservation, and it is very hard to pass any judgment on
it. A few features are, however, to be seen. The
figure has the slender proportions and is in the same
position of torsion as the Pompeii statuette. She wears
the same type of braceletswith a zone of thin circlets
placed between two bulky ones; she has the same type
of heavy earringswith criss-cross pattern; and she is
bending the left arm to hold one of the earringsin the
same mannered way. The face has the same shape

A

?

i,:
:L?

/2--

as the ivory from Pompeii, with large staring eyes and
a rosette prominently inserted above the eyebrows.
Hackin in a description of the figure wondered
whether the headdressmight be a braidturned around
the head. If this were so, one more similarity with
the Pompeian statuette could be cited. A few other
ivories from Begram,33 may be considered as works
of the same period as the Yaksireproduced by Hackin
in pl. XXXVII, and probably all were derived from
Mathurd works, if they were not products of the
school of Mathurditself. The figure reproduced by
Hackin in pl. XXXVI shows the same proportions of
the body as the ivory from Pompeii and the Amohini
relief from Mathurd, with its narrow shoulders and
slender hips, though a Classicalinfluence in the dress

Fig. 3 Ivory Yaksifrom Begram

and posture is also visible. The head reproduced in
our fig. 4, on the other hand, shows such strong characteristicsof the school of Mathurdthat
it may safely be ascribed to that school.31 The close resemblance between the Begram
34 Compare it, for instance, with a
Hackin, op.cit., pls. XXXIV; fig. 76; XXXVI; XXXVIII.
torana relief from Kankali Tila (Mathura) reproduced in Vogel, Mathurd, pl. XII.
33

177

figure (fig.3) and the Pompeii ivory is striking. The
similarity of style, in addition to the same type of
jewelry worn by both figures might be an indication
that they belonged to the same school of ivory
carvers.
A few minor details remain to be discussed in the
t

r

Pompeian statuette. The headdress is quite exceptional. The arrangementof the hair,as seen from

i

the back, is somewhat similar to the headdress in
a sculpture at Snfici (fig. 5). However the latter's
double braids hanging below the lower loop of
•ii~iiljiiiiiii!!!•!i•
Fig. +

Head of Yaksifrom Begram(ivory)

......
.....

braids are absent in the Pompeian ivory,
while the SdficIexample lacks the elaboration of the decoration with lotus pat-

ii'ii-iiii
I

terns.35 Bachhofer reproduced a front
view of a Yaksi in a relief from Bhdrhut

_iiiii;•

:,i•

i

which seems to have the same kind of
wide loop in the back."6Unfortunately
it is not a sculpture in the round, and I

I::i)-l!iii'iiii

Two worshipping female figures on a relief
from the Northern Gateway of Stfipa I at S~fici
omit the customary double braid hanging on the
back, and show only the wide loop. In this
respect they are very close to the ivory from
Pompeii (Sir J. Marshall and A. Foucher, The
Monuments of Sditc, n. d., II, pl. XXXVI c, left
part of the middle relief).
36
Bachhofer, Early Indian Sculpture, pl. 20.
36

Fig. 5

178

Yaksi from EasternGatewayat S~iici

have not been able to find a back view of a figure from Bhdrhut showing this type of
headdress. The front view of the figure from Bhdrhutshows, however, a differenttreatment
of the headdress on top of the head. In spite of the bangs parted in the middle, with a
rosette inserted at the parting of the hair, and the hair represented with long deeply incised
lines, which features also occur in the Pompeian ivory, the headdress is different and looks
as if it were a straw hat. The statuette from Pompeii has braids in front, represented by
deeply cut radiatinglines, broadly spaced. This treatment of the hair never occurs in the
reliefs from Bhdrhut or Safci, and seems to have been in use in the period immediately
preceding the Kushan(Kusdna)domination. It is very frequent in the figurines in the round
and in the reliefs of the "Parthiandishes" from Sirkap.37
The curious object protruding from behind the head of the ivory statuette has been identified by Maiuri as a hairpin. It is hard to tell whether it is intended to be a hairpin or the
end of the hair. Easily recognizable hairpins are not generally this large.38Another feature
which seems to be peculiar in the ivory statuette from Pompeii is the motif of the two lotus
buds above the breasts. Clasps are used occasionnally in this position,3" but they are not
of this shape nor do they reach such large dimensions.
The female attendants at the sides of the main figure are very much like their mistress, and
therefore do not require a separate study. The only detail worthy of mention in them is
the headdress which completely covers the forehead with bangs and falls down straight at
the sides to the ears, where the earrings are attached. A somewhat similar arrangement is
Marshall, A. S. Z, 1929-30, pl.XVI, I; XIV, 3, 6; XV, 2, 6, etc. The motif occurs sporadically at Bodh
Gaya: Bachhofer, op. cit., pls. 39, 42.
3s A terracotta plaque in the Indian Institute at Oxford, dated between the third and the first century B. C.
(Annual Bibliography of Indian ArchceologyLeyden, 1937, pl. V) has quite a collection of hairpins, some
of them being of a shape similar to the object in the Pompeian ivory, and all of considerable size, but none
reaches the dimensions of the one in Pompeii. A terracotta plaque in the Mathura Museum (Ibid., 1934,
pl. IV e, figure to the left) has something which looks very much like the object sticking out of the head
of the statuette, but, again, it is not easy to decide whether it is a hairpin or the end of the hair tied in a
knot. In other examples the motif seems definitely to be part of the headdress (see two examples from
Amaravati in Bachhofer, op. cit., pl. 129, relief to the right; and Burgess, Amaravati, pl. XXVII, 5; and
one from Mathura in Vogel, Matkurd, pl. VII b).
39 See an example from Bharhut in Bachhofer, op. cit., pl. 21 and one from Mathura, ibid., pl.
75.
87

179

visible in a Yaksi from Mathur,o40 although in the latter example the forehead is not as
completely covered.
The position of the arm behind the head is a feature which never appears before the first
century A.D.; in early Indian sculpture the hand is raised above the head, but does not go
behind it. The reliefs from Amardvatiare the only datable examples immediately following
the SdficTsculptures which have both the awkward positions of the legs and arms and the
slender proportions of the body. The ivory statuette, however, cannot be dated as late as
the AmardvatTworks because of the terminus ante quem provided by the destruction of
Pompeii. On the other hand, stylistic relations with the Amohini relief (probably dated
A.D.) and with the Buddha dedicated by FriarBala in the third year of Kaniska(8i
or 131 A.D., according to the initial date accepted for the reign of Kaniska)seem to confirm

14- -I

the dating around the middle of the first century A.D. The similaritieswith works datablein
the second century A. D. prevent from a dating earlier than the first century A.D.
To conclude, the iconography of the statuette is a mixture of Indian and Classical
elements as we should expect in a product of this period of active intercourse between
the Eastern and the Western world.4' The style is that of the school of Mathuri in its
early period, as shown by the facial type as well as the general proportions of the body.
This proves that in the first century A. D. the school of Mathurdwas already flourishing
and exported its products to territories far apart from the center of the school itself. The
date seems to be the second quarter of the first century A. D., as shown both by the history
of the find-place of the statuette, Pompeii, and by the style of the figure, the ornaments,
and the details in the headdress. The statuette is also of importance because it helps to date
some of the Begram ivories, and because it is one of the rare examples of early Indianivory
carvings preserved to us."
4o Vogel, op. cit., pl. XII.

I do not agree with Ippel, who sees similarities between the statuette and a representation of a dancer
on coins of Pantaleon (ca. 170 B. C.) reproduced in Foucher (Ippel, in Arc/heologischer Anzeiger, Beiblatt

41

zum 5ahrbuch des Deutschen
Arckweologischen Instituts, 1939, pp. 371-75)

The ivory carvings preserved in India proper from a period earlier than the Medieval are very scanty,
probably on account of the dampness of the climate. That ivory carving was practised since early times
is proved by the inscription on the SaiaiciGateway, already mentioned in note 21.
42

18o