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Nagini in Art Analyzing the Nagini with Fertility

The Nagini (9th century) is one of the three dimensional sculptor that has a spiritual importance, this spiritual importance related with female fertility. The Nagini is part of the Hindu pantheon, but it was worshipped even before the rise of Hinduism as it has been an important part of ancient Indian culture. The Nagini resembles the beauty of the world and the authority of life force through outrageous forms and beautiful poses that contributes to the purpose of this water spirit.

In a strong way, this Nagini can be considered a Venus of its culture. The Venus in art has long stood as the canon of feminine beauty and has been presented in other famous artworks dating from history with the Venus of Willendorf to the present art world with Chagall images of Naomi Campbell and other celebrities. The Nagini is no different than these other representations of feminine beauty.

This particular Nagini was made of buff sandstone, which does not indicate complexity in the making process especially that it was sculptured during the 9th century; however, the Nagini is not just a simple figure. It is a naturalistic and idealized figure with emphasis of the female breast, and the incorporated jewelry as means of expressing beauty. In fact the breasts of the figure are rather stylized with their heavy weight and their obvious shape staying as orbs instead of bearing their own weight as a natural form would.

This is what is idealized about the figure – her perfection. This is supported by her wearing necklaces and other jewels and even her headdress and chains all symbolize that she is the perfect Indian companion to any man. For, it was the purpose of the Nagini to be somewhat copacetic to her male counterpart just as this Nagini is found beautiful by the museum patrons.

There are parts of the body that are missing, but that is just because the material used which is buff sandstone, and considering this figure is more than a thousand years old, those parts could have been eroded, or handled without enough care which lead to lose parts of the figure. However, with the rest of the figure being so stylized and idealized one may imagine what the missing parts of her body looked like – that is, they were probably perfect and ornamented with jewels and chains just as the rest of her body is.

In fact, it appears that the Angina’s body is completely dedicated to a hedonistic view point as her stylized breasts and her bare stomach are all depicted with the intention to arouse the viewer or in the very least for the viewer to immediately recognize how very beautiful the Nagini is, whether in Hindu or Indian eyes (thus, her beauty transcends times, cultures, and religions just any representation of a Venus does) as Kossak explains, “The facial type is slightly different from Kashmiri norms, as are the styles of ornament.

Also the sculpture [of this period – 9th century India] has a distinctive elan perhaps derived from Gupta art that can be seen in the early statue of the Buddhist deity…” (Kossak 33-35). It is this suppleness of the body which is so intriguing about this sculpture whose predecessors in Indian art were of more stoic stances.

The stance of the Nagini in this depiction is very seductive. Her body is cocked to one side giving her entire body an S-curve stance which is also associated with many Greek and Roman sculptures as Kramrisch states, “The human shape in Indian sculpture is based on actual appearance inasmuch as the Indian physique is less muscular and more supple than its Western counterpart….

the creative ascents, pauses and transitions are carried in the flowing waves of curves; these are further elaborated by the accountable as well as imponderable accents of time and place, climate of season and soul and by the conventions in which Indian sculpture accounts for and labels its identity” (Kramrisch 35). This counterbalance emphasizes the curves of the Nagini which in turn makes her sexuality that much more apparent.

Placing upon this curve the heaviness of the breasts and the presence of the belly button the viewer is all but given an onslaught of female sexuality and lustfulness. This stance in turn allows the viewer to think that the Indians placed great importance on things of the physical world (such as giving birth or of offering men a beautiful woman to look upon) but the adaptation of the Nagini into the Hindu culture makes the viewer of the statue believe that there is equal importance of the Venus’ body in a physical sense as well as her presence in a religious capacity.

Of course, the religion is so closely tied with the ability to give birth that this perhaps is the main reason that the Nagini is so awarded these fine jewels for what is the ocean except a giant womb giving the peoples of India a chance to fish, to get food for their families and to keep the . of the culture in general good wealth as Wessing states, “…a relationship with a nagini was indispensable in founding a state. The same is true of a founding of a local community.

In order to successfully start a new community, the founder must enter into an agreement with a local nature spirit the embodiment of the fertility of a place…behavioral rules must be observed if it is to continue to favor the community with its blessing of fertility” (Wessing 214). The figure itself does not say much about the complexity of the society, however, the abundance of jewelry suggest that the society have experience in metal working, and therefore we can say that the society that produced this figure is actually complex.

Stone setting is not an easy task and it requires welding if not soldering as well as complexities involving heat and design. The entire body of the Nagini is decorated in such fine jewels and chains that it may also be inferred that this was a woman of high social class because one would have to have money in order to afford such finery.

If then the woman is of such high social class she would have to be a concubine, a lady with an inheritance or a female of mythical origins (Rao 176). The Nagini does not represent a character in real life rather it’s a fictional, naturalistic and idealized character which has been worshipped by the Indian society (also, since the nagini has transcended Indian society and become so closely associated with the Hindu it may also be said that the Nagini belongs to a global society).

Since she is considered a water spirit (or a water element or an elemental as she is known in some instance – she is also the female counterpart to the male naga in Indian folklore) and since her body is decorated in many jewels then it must also be surmised that the Indian culture prized water above other elements if they were willing to assert such finery on the myth of this Venus. By decorating her with jewels and other riches they in turn are explaining to the viewer that this water element was of great importance in Indian’s daily life and not just the Nagini’s legend.

Works Cited Kossak, Steven. The Arts of South and Southeast Asia. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin. New Series. Vol. 51, No. 4. (Spring 1994). Pp. 1-88. Kramrisch, Stella. Indian Sculpture Newly Acquired. Philadelphia Museum of Art Bulletin. Vol. 52, No. 252. (Winter 1957). pp. 31-38. Rao, M. S. Nagaraja. Sculptures from the Later Calukyan Temple at Haveri. Artibus Asiae. Vol. 31, No. 2/3. (1969). Pp. 167-178. Wessing, Robert. Symbolic Animals in the Land Between the Waters: Markers of Place And Transition. Asian Folklore Studies. Vol. 65, No. 2. (2006). Pp. 205-239.

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