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Asian Art

Yakshi in Dance Posture

2nd–1st century B.C.E.


6 1/2 × 4 3/8 in. (16.5 × 11.1 cm)
Purchased with a gift from Steven M. Kossak, B.A. 1972
Plaques with figurative or narrative scenes, possibly offered in rituals, were also hung on walls in homes and decorated the exterior of brick temples. The upraised position of the woman’s arms suggests that she is dancing or has lifted her arms to touch a tree. The latter, a common theme in early Indian art, referred to the belief that the touch of a young, fertile woman could cause a tree to bloom. Such figures, and other representations of semidivine women, are known as yakshis.
On view
Shunga period (185–75 B.C.E.)

Art of the Past (dealer), New York; sold to the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn., 2000

This work appears on our "Antiquities and Archaeological Material with Provenance Documentation Gaps" page.

Gautam Sengupta, Sima Roy Chowdhury, and Sharmi Chakraborty, Eloquent Earth: Early Terracottas in the State Archaeological Museum, West Bengal (Kolkata: Centre for Archaeological Studies and Training, 2007).

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.