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The Sanchi Torso

Listed under Works of Art in London, United Kingdom.

Photo of The Sanchi Torso
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Headless, armless and in possession of only the upper part of its legs, the slender Sanchi Torso resides today at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. It was discovered in its present state in 1883 at a site of great religious significance in India: Sanchi, where a collection of Buddhist monuments were all built near each other during the Satavahana and Sunga dynasties, from the 3rd century BC onwards.

Dated to approximately the year 900, it is little more than a free-standing stone relief work, but it displays an extremely accurate, if simplified anatomical representation of the ‘tribhanga’ pose, a yoga position where the body’s central line runs in a soft, sinuous, off-centre ‘S’-shape.

Few free-standing pieces have been discovered dating from this period, so the effort made in generating a sense of perspective in a nearly flat object are all the more special here.

The work is regarded as being highly symbolic of Buddhist philosophy as well as artistically impressive, which explains why it has long been regarded as the most important Indian sculpture anywhere in Europe.

The shattered pieces of its mirrored twin were discovered at Sanchi in 1971, and an image of the complete statue was then compiled for the first time, showing one of a pair of twin ‘attendants’ to a large, stone Buddha in one of Sanchi’s celebrated temples.

View the Sanshi Torso at London's V&A.

Written by  larapiegeler.

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