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Surya, The Sun God
Deity who perpetuates daily time with his ride across the sky

Artist/maker unknown, Indian or Bangladeshi

Made in West Bengal, Bengal Region, India, Asia
or Bengal Region, Bangladesh, Asia

Medieval Period (c. 600 - c. 1300)

c. 12th century


62 3/4 × 32 1/2 × 13 inches (159.4 × 82.6 × 33 cm) Weight: 1819 lb. (825.09 kg)

Curatorial Department:
South Asian Art

* Gallery 331, Asian Art, third floor (Dutt Gallery)

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. N. R. Norton, Mrs. Richard Waln Meirs, Mrs. Edwin N. Benson, Jr., and Mrs. William A. M. Fuller in memory of Mrs. Jones Wister, 1927

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The solar deity Surya probably originated in Iran and was later assimilated into the Hindu pantheon. Consequently, he is depicted as a Central Asian warrior with boots, breastplate, and dagger. The god stands in a chariot pulled by seven horses. In each hand he holds fully opened lotus blossoms, flowers that bloom in the light of the sun. Surya is flanked by his two wives and by the male attendants Pingala (with pen and inkpot) and Dandin (with sword and shield). Above him Ushas, goddess of the Dawn, precedes the sun on his daily ride across the sky while, to either side of her, female archers dispel darkness with their arrows. This image, along with several others, was recovered in 1893 from Sagar Island, West Bengal, although the location of the workshop where it was made remains unidentified.

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