Standing Goddess or Figurine
1st century BC
Gallery 20, Indian Art
Ground Floor


 

Introduction
This terracotta plaque, commonly called the Oxford Plaque, is one of the finest examples of early Indian terracottas to survive. It was discovered in ancient Tamralipta, present day Tamluk in India, and it dates to around the first century BC. The iconography of the figurine has fascinated and intrigued scholars for over a century, and research continues in order that we might find out more about this exquisite figurine.

Who was she?
She was a major ancient Indian goddess with a huge following, whose cult died out by the second century AD. Scholars are undecided, however, about whom the figure depicts. Some believe that she is a yaksi, a nature spirit or local goddess. Some scholars now think that the weapons in her turban reflect a significant protective identity.

What was her function?
At either side of her waist there is a small hole which indicates that the figurine could be strung up and perhaps attached to a person, like an amulet or talisman. The fact that it has been made from a mould tells us that she is one of many to be produced, quickly and relatively cheaply. This suggests that she may have been used as an votive offering at a place of worship.