Bronzes provide a body through which gods make themselves available and accessible to humans. Inspired by the verses of south Indian poet-saints, sculptors sought to endow each bronze deity with breathtaking presence.
The poet Sambandar expressed the impact of encountering Shiva embodied as Lute Player, one of the god’s many forms:
The coral red Lord came to me chanting sweet Tamil poems. He stayed, playing the lute, singing songs to the beat of the mulavam and montai drums. Now he is gone. Taking my beauty with him, Leaving me pale as the kumil flower.
This mighthy protector of the Buddha once stood guard at the entrance to Ebaradera, a temple in Osaka, Japan.
The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, National Museum of Asian Art
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