Posted on: 27 April 2013

Relief plaque, moulded Terracotta, Kausambi.
Circa 1st century BC

The upper part of a terracotta plaque with a moulded relief of a full-frontal female head and upper torso. The plaque has an arched top with a rounded moulding below which at the centre there is a hole. The female has an elaborate headdress with a tiered conical topknot on either side of which is a pair of flaps that hang down over her hair. A variety of unidentified objects, which may include different weapons, project outwards from these flaps. She has a large circular earring in her right ear and a more elaborate openwork earring in the left ear. A scarf or uttariya is draped over her shoulders falling down either side of her breasts next to her arms.

Copyright: © V&A Images.

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So nice!

remarkably similar to one found at chandraketugarh. see this

Beautiful.. and Tarun Tapas Mukherjee thanks for sharing the other beautiful sculpture too.. :-)

The most popular deity of the doab region in the 2nd BC to 2nd AD phase. Thousands (not hundreds) have been found from various sites between punjab & bengal. Largest lots come from Ahhichhatra, Kausambi & Chandraketugarh. The museum collections at Allahabad, Delhi & Jhajjar must have 100+ variants of this deity. Stella Kramrisch had identified this as " Panchachuda" goddess in 1939. But off-late, there is serious doubt on this. The distinctive feature of this deity is that she wears five ayudhas (weapons) as ornaments in her big head-dress. Some variants have three or even 10 weapons, but mostly five. This deity is thought to be some form of a proto-Durga deity. Kramrisch appears to have confused this with apsara, Panchachuda because of the reference to the five weapons in the head. In the Mahabharata story, Yudhistira asks Bhishma, " why women are the cause of all misery" & he replies citing a dialogue between sage Narada & an apsara, Panchachuda.QUOTE - " In ancient times after roaming all over the world Narada met the Apsara Panchachuda who was acclaimed as most beautiful among the Apsaras. He asked her whether she would be able clear a doubt which he had for which the Apsara replied that if the subject was known to her she would reply. Then The Celestial Seer asked her after saying that he would never ask a question which she did not understand and asked as to the disposition of women. The Apsara said being a woman herself, it was difficult for her to speak ill of women. However since the Seer wanted to hear from her about women she said that even a lady who is born in a royal family with a silver spoon in her mouth, endowed with beauty , having many protectors, wanted to transgress the restrains put on her. This is what stains the women. Women are most sinful. They are the root cause of all faults. If they get an oppurtunity they will even be ready to leave a husband who is very famous, very wealthy, obedient to her and having very handsome features. " This, O puissant one, is a sinful disposition with us women, that, casting off modesty, we cultivate the companionship of men of sinful habits and intentions. Women betray a liking for those men who court them, who approach their presence, and who respectfully serve them to even a slight extent. Through want of solicitation by persons of the other sex, or fear of relatives, women, who are naturally impatient of all restraints, do not transgress those that have been ordained for them, and remain by the side of their husbands. There is none whom they are incapable of admitting to their favors’. They never take into consideration the age of the person they are prepared to favor, Ugly or handsome, if only the person happens to belong to the opposite sex, women are ready to enjoy his companionship. That women remain faithful to their lords is due not to their fear of sin, nor to compassion, nor to wealth, nor to the affection that springs up in their hearts for kinsmen and children. Women living in the bosom of respectable families envy the condition of those members of their sex that are young and well-adorned with jewels and gems and that lead a free life. Even those women that are loved by their husbands and treated with great respect, are seen to bestow their favors upon men that are hump-backed, that are blind, that are idiots, or that are dwarfs. Women may be seen to like the companionship of even those men that are destitute of the power of locomotion or those men that are endued with great ugliness of features. O great Rishi, there is no man in this world whom women may regard as unfit for companionship. Through inability to obtain persons of the opposite sex, or fear of relatives, or fear of death and imprisonment, women remain, of themselves, within the restraints prescribed for them. They are exceedingly restless, for they always hanker after new companions. In consequence of their nature being unintelligible, they are incapable of being kept in obedience by affectionate treatment. Their disposition is such that they are incapable of being restrained when bent upon transgression. Verily, women are like the words uttered by the wise. Fire is never satiated with fuel. Ocean can never be filled with the waters that rivers bring unto him. The Destroyer is never satiated with slaying even all living creatures. Similarly, women are never satiated with men. This, O celestial Rishi, is another mystery connected with women. As soon as they see a man of handsome and charming features, unfailing signs of desire appear on their persons. They never show sufficient regard for even such husbands as accomplish all their wishes, as always do what is agreeable to them and as protect them from want and danger. Women never regard so highly even articles of enjoyment in abundance or ornaments or other possessions of an agreeable kind as they do the companionship of persons of the opposite sex. The destroyer, the deity of wind, death, the nether legions, the equine


Great info Ratnesh Mathur. Thanks!

Mr Mathur many thanks.

Thanks sir

Stella Kramrisch was trying to give this fascinating pan indic lady an identification and it will be interesting to know Ratnesh mathur's reasons why he thinks otherwise and his views on lady's thing which can be said with some certainty that it was perhaps one of the earliest religious cult spread over such a vast area and was important enough to merit an iconography......

If you look across all the terracotta finds from this region, in this period ( 2nd century BC to 2nd century AD), you'll note a lack of deities/ characters from the Mahabharata. From the Gupta period, its a different story at the same sites.( even Yudhishtir fighting Jayadrath appears at Ahhichhatra in a terracotta 4th century Gupta piece only - refer National Museum, Delhi ). Panchachuda story in the Mahabharata, is too unimportant in the mahabharata context, to merit such popularity. Even the term "Panchchuda" is an obscure term & seems contextual in the Narada/Mahabharata reference. We're a continous civilization ( Toynbee etc.) & dont have reason to have completely wiped out knowledge/reference of such a popular deity. From fertility/mother goddesses to now, "Durga" goes on strong & popular. The iconography & related sanskrit word-play also seems to fit in. Ahhichhatra, Kaushambi, Chandraketugarh etc. are big urban centers of the Doab in this period. Walled cities or forts (" Durg") are common to these sites. To me, there is also some kind of a word-play here - weapons is "astra" & clothes that adorn you are " vastra" . ( Does the combination somehow represent all comprehensive knowledge or " Shastra" ? ) Maa Durga has always been adorned by various weapons in so many myths about her ( see - ). Urbanization in the doab is very visible in its iconography of this period. Statues of "Kubera" ( God of wealth) , abound. Vedic iconography too. Look again at this photo's headgear - to the right, 5 distinct weapons but to the left, perhaps 5 icons of nature to represent the 5 indriyaan & the weapons on the right are to merely counter these ( i.e. - Agniastra, vayuastra, varunaastra etc.) . The name - Durga . She is still so popular in this region. My vote for "Durga" ....

Amazing job Ratnesh Mathur!!!