[INDOLOGY] Inscriptions on Pala-type sculptures of Vishnu

Arlo Griffiths arlogriffiths at hotmail.com
Fri Sep 17 04:39:51 UTC 2021

Dear Christophe,

Thanks for sharing these photos.

Such dedication inscriptions on sculptural stelae from Bengal are not uncommon. The following two catalogues published by Claudine Bautze-Picron include appendices by the late Gouriswar Bhattacharya with readings of several dozens of inscriptions of this type:

   Bautze-Picron, Claudine. 1998. The Art of Eastern India in the Collection of the Museum Für Indische Kunst, Berlin: Stone & Terracotta Sculptures. Monographien zur Indischen Archäologie, Kunst und Philologie 12. Berlin: Reimer.
   ———. 2014. The Forgotten Place: Stone Images from Kurkihar. New Delhi: Archaeological Survey of India.

G. Bhattacharya himself has dedicated numerous articles to such inscriptions, and most of them are assembled in this volume:

   Bhattacharya, Gouriswar. 2000. Essays on Buddhist, Hindu, Jain Iconography & Epigraphy. Edited by Enamul Haque. Studies in Bengal Art 1. Dhaka: The International Centre for Study of Bengal Art.

An effort is being made by Rajat Sanyal (University of Calcutta) as part of the DHARMA project to compile a database of such inscriptions, initially focusing on specimens that contain a (regnal) date, and I am helping him in this effort. I hope that we'll have something to show within a year or two.

The writing is often perfunctory (both from the point of view of physical engraving and from the point of view of grammar) and the texts are full of proper names. For these reasons, such inscriptions can be hard to decipher. Here's a quick attempt for the specimen you saw in Brussels:

[siddham] paścīnitañ ca māta ca ||

I haven't myself been reading such inscriptions lately so I expect numerous corrections from other members of this forum.

Best wishes,

Arlo Griffiths

From: INDOLOGY <indology-bounces at list.indology.info> on behalf of Christophe Vielle via INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info>
Sent: Thursday, September 16, 2021 4:45 PM
To: Indology <indology at list.indology.info>
Subject: [INDOLOGY] Inscriptions on Pala-type sculptures of Vishnu

Dear list,

In a little exhibition of Indian and Himalayan arts in Brussels (De Marteau collection to be sold in auction by Bonhams
https://www.bonhams.com/video/32650/#/MR3_main_index_key=sale&m3=3 ), there is a sculpture of Vishnu in the North-East/"Pala" style.
Such sculptures have been well documented in the works of Huntington or Claudine Picron  - see by the latter:

However, there is a short inscription on the pedestal (see picture attached).

[cid:438CE47D-10BF-4EA9-BCC8-5EF38F436781 at lan]

[cid:290B157D-00CB-45B4-9D8C-8DA0C2FD746C at lan]

This seems not very common - from a quick check of images of similar sculptures available online (see list below, from museums or auctions), I found only one example in an auction in Köln (via Drouot)


[cid:3E0B6789-B773-4ED8-977D-5DA16D65D14F at lan]

My problem remains the precise reading/meaning of these two (genuine or added later?) inscriptions (which does not make sense to me yet, as far as I am able to read them).

Best wishes,


















Christophe Vielle<https://uclouvain.be/en/directories/christophe.vielle>

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