Carved ivory components for furniture were commonly used in eastern India, and this example is one of a set of four, now dispersed, which display a rearing mythical lion, in each case formalized and mannered with its head slightly turned in a contorted posture. The lion is a typical motif for the throne of divinity and symbol of royal divinity, with a long beaked nose, deeply carved toothy grin and flared nostrils and cascading ringlets of his mane.
An inscription on the Jaganatha Temple at the seacoast town of Puri during the reign of King Purushottamdeva (1467–97) records the gift of eight sets of cared ivory thrones to the King's personal deity. Examples of Orissan throne legs can be dated on stylistic grounds to the thirteenth through the seventeenth centuries. Enormous strength is conveyed in the distorted proportions of the lion, enhanced by a minutely detailed hunting scene set in a compressed imaginary landscape with animals emerging from a rocky mountain on the reverse.
Ivory with traces of polychrome
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Gift of the Asian Art Council
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Throne Leg, 17th century. Ivory with traces of polychrome, 15 1/2 x 4 1/8 in. (39.4 x 10.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Asian Art Council
, 1992.83. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 1992.83_SL1.jpg)
front, 1992.83_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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In the shape of a rampant lion (sardula), its head facing forward while its body and limbs point in the opposite direction. It has a large face, with long flattened nose, and a toothy grin, with nostrils and mouth deeply cut. Repeated patterns of curly fur mark brow, moustache and ruff. "Elbows" of lion are thrust forward with rosettes at tips and curly fringe with deep cutting below. Lion is ornamented with beaded and tasseled harness and bejeweled anklets. A dancing, garlanded female figure stands between lion's legs at front. Lion stands on a beaded lotus pedestal. Above the lion at the top of the piece are the face and arms of a mustached, crowned male. This face is repeated, slightly larger and more rudimentally carved, on reverse. Below the face on the reverse is the lion's chest, which is not deeply carved or elaborately detailed. The paws, each with long claws, are visible on either side. Below, between the lion's legs on reverse beneath a group of small figures are shown hunting lions, boar and deer beneath a delicately carved lattice of scrolling, flowering vines. Overall form of the throne leg is cylindrical, curving outwards at slant. Square pegs protrude from base and top, and two square holes appear at either side of top for attachment of leg to rest of chair.
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