, Lotus ceiling Enlarge 1 /1

On display on Level 1

Rajasthan or Madhya Pradesh, India

Lotus ceiling 11th-12th century Materials & Technique: sculptures, stone
Dimensions: 81.3 h x 75.0 w x 5.7 d cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 2005
Accession No: NGA 2005.230
  • The supplied chain of ownership for this object is being reviewed and further research is underway. The provenance information listed has been substantiated by documentation. Details may be refined and updated as research progresses.
  • with a private collector, Great Britain, before the 1960s (details to be confirmed)
  • with Terence McInerney, New York, 2005 or before
  • who sold it to the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2005 for USD 41,600

Stone lotus-patterned ceilings occur in 8th–13th century temples throughout northern India. The lotus is a recurring motif in Indian art where it is a symbol of prosperity, purity and fertility. Although the lotus grows out of muddy water, it emerges clean on the surface and finally produces a beautiful flower.

This sculpture may also be seen as a mandala, a symbolic representation of the universe which sometimes takes the form of a multi-petalled lotus flower. Framing the concentric layers of petals within its square border, and in the corners, are eight small grotesque faces of glory (kirtimukha). These magical devices with bulging eyes, small pointed horns and distinct fangs serve protective and decorative functions similar to gargoyles.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2011
From: Asian gallery extended display label