A brass figure of Bahubali

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A brass figure of Bahubali

India, Karnataka, 15th century 13 3/4 in. (34.9 cm.) high


With Kapoor Galleries since the 1990’s.

The present figure depicts Bahubali, an important subject in Jain art. According to legend, Bahubali was born the second son to Rishabhanatha and queen Sunanda. In a battle of succession, their first son Bharata demanded homage from his 99 other brothers, all of whom renounced their worldly claims, apart from Bahubali. When the two brothers entered into battle, just as Bahubali was about to strike his winning blow, he realized the futility of his worldly existence and ceased fighting.

Renouncing violence and pride, Bahubali became a monk, plucking out his hair and abandoning all worldly attachments–including his clothes. In a performance of penance, Bahubali meditated in “body-abandonment” posture in the forest, allowing birds to roost on his head and vines to creep up his body until. After a year of fast and meditation, Bahubali achieved moksha, becoming the first human of this world-age to attain liberation.

This brass sculpture is from Karnataka, where a 65-foot high statue of the figure stands at Shravanabelagola, built in 983 A.D. The present fifteenth-century bronze displays the same iconography, with equally pleasing proportions and a soft meditative countenance.

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