Celestial Dancer
Classical Indian Sculptor


This piece dates back to my forefathers who sculpted for almost three centuries, to create some of the finest sculptures in the Ajanta and Ellora caves in India. These caves are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They were sculpted out from one large mountain rock and most likely vertically downwards. There are hundreds of temple sculptures dotted throughout India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos, Nepal and Tibet. Sculptures are used to adorn the temples and convey stories of the Gods. 

Not much is known about the names of the sculptors or how the traditions of sculpting were passed on. Most of these sculptures were created using imaginative realism. They were wrongly depicted as erotic sculptures by the then English who discovered them, classing them as lacking the anatomical knowledge. These sculptures were not about the aesthetics. Instead they considered the spiritual aspect of a sculpture, and the union beyond the physical to achieve Nirvana or liberation.


In doing this piece it gave me an opportunity to travel back in time, feel the environment they sculpted in and appreciate their craftsmanship. I presume they made detailed models and executed it to precision. I feel there must have been a grand plan with these sites existing as centres of education and worship. Nudity must have been the norm as depicted in these sculptures. They were placed in equally impressive architectural temples. The jewellery design was exemplary and used skilfully to give modesty to the figures.

I used a lot of anatomical reference to build this piece up as this is the way that I sculpt. Eventually though, I lose what is anatomically not necessary in order to retain the form that coincides with the era. This piece was particularly challenging as there was no model, and instead references were made from texts on Indian sculpture and mythology.

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