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Pilaster - Pilaster


  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    West Bengal (Mahishadal, Midnapore District)

  • Date:

    mid-nineteenth century

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved wood

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

A wooden pilaster carved on three sides from a corner of a processional chariot. The plinth is a plain block with a projecting central compartment which is mirrored at the top by a plain capital. The two sides are carved like a frieze in relief with the central projection sandwiched in between and carved in full relief. Horsemen wearing European costume wielding spears and muskets are shown charging down the length of the pilaster after lions with a deer rearing between the second horseman down from the top and a lion in front on the right sideof the pilaster, but closer to the top in front of the first horseman on its left side. At the bottom on each side there is an elephant whose rider is stabbing a makara crouching on the base. At the top under the capital there are two attendants, the one on the right side wielding two swords, behind clothed figures mounted on lions with spears. On the right side there is a seated elephant.

Place of Origin

West Bengal (Mahishadal, Midnapore District)


mid-nineteenth century



Materials and Techniques

Carved wood


Height: 2140 mm, Width: 192 mm, Depth: 342 mm

Object history note

Two carved wood pilasters were obtained from the old Jagannatha chariot belonging to the Rajas of Mahishadal, Midnapur district, Bengal. On the last occassion it was drawn, seven men were crushed under its wheels. The Board of Revenue immediately ordered the old cart to be broken up and replaced by a modern construction of lighter make (mid-19th century).

In 1884 the pilaster with its companion pair were exhibited at the Calcutta International Exhibition and were awarded a bronze medal in the Archaeological Section.

Received from Mr J. A. Nicholls

Descriptive line

Architecture, wood, carved, Bengal India

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

Kramrisch, Stella, Unknown India: Ritual Art in Tribe and Village, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1968, plate XXVII, No.328

Imp. Gazeteer XVII pp. 334-5.
Arts of Bengal : the heritage of Bangladesh and eastern India : an exhibition organized by the Whitechapel Art Gallery in collaboration with the Victoria and Albert Museum : 9 November-30 December 1979, Whitechapel Art Gallery ..., 12 January-17 February 1980, Manchester City Art Gallery ... . [London]: Whitechapel Art Gallery, [1979] Number: 085488047X (pbk.) :
p. 541, cat. 180
Bryant, Julius and Weber, Susan, John Lockwood Kipling: Arts and Crafts in the Punjab and London Newhaven: Yale University Press, 2017

Production Note

Made for the Raja of Mahishadal, Midnapore Disctrict, West Bengal. The note which accompanied the pilaster on acquisition states that 'the car was brought from the neighbourhood of the Rangibhasaw Bridge that crosses the Canal [Odisha Canal] flowing into the junction of the Rupnarain [sic] and Hughly [sic] Rivers'.





Subjects depicted



Religion; Woodwork; Hinduism


South & South East Asia Collection

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