New York, NY. By Appointment


Green Bronze

13th Century

South India

Height: 15¼″, 39 cm

Sambandar is dancing on a round base over a square plinth with his left foot raised, his right hand has the index finger pointing upwards and the left hand outstretched. He is adorned with a belt and necklaces. His hair is piled in a long conical chignon while his eyes are elongated and large circular earrings adorn his ears.

According to legend Sambandar was a devotee of Shiva who was born into a Brahmin family and had a mystical experience as a small child. He was left alone when his father went to the Shiva temple. The father had left him on the steps of the tank attached to the temple while he performed religious duties. Sambandar became hungry and was crying when Parvati happened to come along and gave him milk. When his father returned Sambandar was holding a golden cup with drops of milk dripping down his chin. He informed his father that Parvati had given him the milk by pointing upwards to her image seated next to Shiva on the temple tower, and then he burst into a joyous song and dance.

Sambandar is always naked except for an elaborate arrangement of jewelry and a girdle of suspended bells that rest on his thighs. He became famous as a Shaiva saint and traveled throughout the land singing and dancing.