AGE: – Unsure – possibly Pyu/Pagan era
CONSTRUCTION: – Acquired in Myanmar – possibly black jade with some lighter green colour
DESCRIPTION: – Rare Carved Black Stone Icon Hindu Influence – pieces chipped around the edges
HEIGHT: – 10cm
WIDTH: – 8cm
DEPTH: – 3cm
WEIGHT: – 450 gms.
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Rare Black Carved Stone Icon Hindu Influence shows a hint of green jade (see pictures), it is possible that the stone is black jade with lighter green in places, it is a natural stone.
During the Mon and Pyu periods from the 3rd to 12th century the people of Burma and their art was influenced by Hindu/Buddhist Pilgrims, missionaries from Sri Lanka as well as traders crossing from India over the Bay of Bengal and the Gulf of Martaban into Burma, disembarking at the Mon port of Thaton in lower Burma.
Artifacts uncovered at the Pyu sites at Sri Ksetra, Halin and Beikthano are thought to date back to 5 A.D. Inscriptions on Buddhist iconography found there attest to the influence of Hinduism and Buddhism which was introduced into Burma from these early times.
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Although this icon was sourced in Myanmar it could have been brought into the country with pilgrims or traders during these early times, or crafted in Myanmar for or by a person of Hindu faith. Although this carving lacks the refinement and sophistication of the ancient black stone Pala pieces one sees from India, the style does have similarities to some of the carved stone figures seen in relief on the walls at the Borobudur site on the island of Java where a strong Hindu/Buddhist influence existed from the 8th – 10th century.
This icon may be a depiction of Shiva and Parvati his consort. Parvati is the primordial force that keeps the universe together and is revered by Hindus as a benevolent mother figure. It could have been carried as a talisman for protection. In Hindu mythology similar style figures are seen together with a small figure, with a child’s body with an elephants head. This icon shows a third figure, that of a smaller women holding a lotus flower which extends above her head.
This icon could also represent that of the romantic couple Yakshi and Mithuna from the famous epic Hindu love story of the Ramayana tales.
Examples of similar types of iconography can be seen in Gordon H Luce’s book “Old Burma- Early Pagan”.