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Sculpture - Jyestha


  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Tamil Nadu (possibly Pudukottai region, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 9th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

A granite panel sculpted in high relief, with an asymmetrical pointed arch at the top and a rectangular base. The largest of the three figures, in the centre, is that of the female deity, Jyestha. She is seated wearing a skirt and the upper part of her body is bare. Her hair is done up in a three-tiered chignon, holds a blue lotus (nilotpala) flower in her right hand, while her left hand rests on her left thigh. She wears curved earrings, necklace, a sacred thread (yajnopavita), bracelets, and an armlet on her upper left arm.
The figure on her right has a bull's head, two arms and two legs; he is seated with his left leg up and his right leg down resting on a cushion. He has a jewelled conical crown (kiritamukuta) and holds a staff (danda) in his right hand.
The figure on her left is female, possibly Agnimatha, and has two arms and two legs; she is seated with her right leg up and her left leg down resting on a cushion. She has a conical crown (karandamukuta), and wears earrings, necklace, yajnopavita, and a bracelet and armlet on her left arm which is by her side. She holds a nilotpala flower in her right hand.
A pillar (stambha) is carved in low relief at the back between Jyestha and the figure on her left,

Place of Origin

Tamil Nadu (possibly Pudukottai region, made)


ca. 9th century (made)



Materials and Techniques



Depth: 86 cm, Width: 67 cm, Depth: 32 cm

Object history note

Purchased from Spink and Son Limited, 5,6 7& King Street, St. James, London SW2y 6QS in 1979

Historical context note

The goddess Jyestha, usually described as the elder sister of Laksmi, the goddess of beauty and fortune, represents misfortune. She is depicted as full bodied, seated in the European manner, flanked by her bull-headed son and her daughter. As a goddess of ill luck, her followers include demons and evil spirits and her shrine was generally installed outside villages. Nonetheless, her worship was once widespread in Tamil Nadu as Chola inscriptions referring to the endowment of shrines in her honour record. In eastern and western India this deity is worshipped under the name of Sitala as the goddess of smallpox.

Descriptive line

The goddess Jyestha, Granite, Tamil Nadu, South India,Pallava Dynasty, circa 9th century

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

J.N.Bannerjee, The development of Hindu iconography, pp.382-384
T.A.Gopinatha Rao, Elements of Hindu iconography, I, pp.390-399 & pls. CXXI-CXXIII
H.K.Sastri, S.Indian images of Gods and Goddesses, 216-218 & fig.135.
Guy, John: 'Indian Temple Sculpture', London, V & A Publication, 2007, p.167, pl.189.
ISBN 9781851775095.

Production Note

late Pallava to early Chola period

Subjects depicted



South & South East Asia Collection

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