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3rd Century BC, Mauryan Period
Place of origin: Mathura, Uttar Pradesh
Dimensions: Ht: 22.5 cm
Acc. No. 83.126
This terracotta figurine from the 3rd century BC, represents the later of the two phases when baked clay - terracotta, emerged as the most widely used medium of artistic expression, that is, a phase from 324 BC to 187 BC, the other, earlier one, being from 2600 BC to 2000 BC. It represents the Mother Goddess, a part of the Indus deity-cult, perhaps the cult of worshipping the Mother earth in some form. Otherwise known as the Harappan and Mauryan periods, urbanization in which the art of clay modeling and baking, either for thatching a roof with baked clay tiles, constructing a wall with baked clay bricks, or crafting a votive or aesthetic image or other artefacts, was the core concern of both phases. The cult of the Mother Goddess, prevalent throughout the centuries, represents the principle of Mother as the giver and sustainer of life. The actual birth-giving human mother might have been in the root of the cult.
Unlike this image in most of her statues/figurines the Goddess is depicted with composed arms, that is, not flung or stretched into the space. In specimens from early phase she has been conceived with prominent genital parts, sometimes even exposed, and with elaborate headdresses and ornaments. This image seems to be dressed in a frock like upper wear, the front embroidered with floral patterns, and in tight-fitted leggings. Her head is bare but has ornaments on ears: the queerly looking heavy coiled 'tatanka' chakra, breast-plate: a necklace with five pendants, and armlets, bracelets, anklets, beaded hair-band and an elaborate girdle with vertical lines. The girdle might also be the heavily laced hem of the frock worked with applique technique. Bold, self-assured and earthly the figurine of the Mother Goddess, the face and the entire figure: full breasts, deep navel, voluminous hips and narrow waist, has been finely modeled. The figure's feet are missing. A period of prolific production of the Mother Goddess images Mathura, Kaushambi, Pataliputra... are the principal Mauryan sites that have yielded a great number of Mother Goddess figurines.