Balinese Gold Figure of Brahma

SKU AM.141
Circa

900 AD to 1300 AD

Dimensions

9.5″ (24.1cm) high x 4.5″ (11.4cm) wide

Medium

Gold

Origin

Indonesia

Gallery Location

USA


 

This astounding gold sculpture is a representation of Brahma. He is the physical form of the Hindu god of creation, whose consort is Saraswati, the goddess of learning and education. He was born without the intervention of a mother, and is one of the trinity of gods (the others being Shiva and Vishnu) that make up the “Trimurti”. The mind of Brahma is said to have given rise to seven sages, who assisted him in his creation of the universe. Having done this, he also created eleven individuals who in turn were the fathers of the entire human race.

His duties as creator god are limited, although he sometimes intervened in the activities of lesser deities. He symbolises Maya (or Praktri) – the essence of female energy. His lifespan is 311 trillion human years, at which point there will be a 311 trillion year gap, then the cycle will be repeated. While extremely powerful, he is not as widely worshipped as the other members of the Trimurti. Figures of Brahma are therefore less common than those of Vishnu and Shiva. Gold figures are particularly uncommon, and only exceptionally wealthy devotees could afford such a princely item. It is likely that this piece once belonged to an aristocratic family for the purposes of private worship, or was perhaps donated to some major religious centre.

It is significant to note that the figure is Balinese, for Balinese Hinduism differs significantly from that of other countries in SE Asia. This is attributable to the persistence of local beliefs and myths that have become integrated into the standard Hindu faith. It is therefore probable that stylistic inconsistencies in the morphology of this figure are attributable to this regionalised specialisation.

The piece is beautifully cast in gold, displaying the imagery of Brahma with four faces, linked to the four Vedas. Unusually, he has 8 arms, unlike the standard 4 which characterise most representations of the deity. In his hands he holds a sceptre, a fly-whisk, an unguent vessel, a scroll, a string of beads and another unidentified object; at least two of the hands are crossed under the navel. The detailing of the ornate crown, clothes and jewellery are astounding in their complexity and the quality of their execution. The folds of cloth and anatomical characteristics are more naturalistic than is often the case for such sculptures, conveying a serene and well-attuned sense of sculptural stability. The piece is mounted on an integral base, and constitutes a rare opportunity to obtain a true masterwork of the Hindu religious tradition.

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