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Double-Faced Lion
From the flat vestibule roof projecting from a temple tower

Artist/maker unknown, Indian

Made in Uttar Pradesh, Deogarh Region, India, Asia

Medieval Period

c. 700–750


23 3/4 × 30 1/4 × 12 1/2 inches (60.3 × 76.8 × 31.8 cm) Weight: 562 lb. (254.92 kg)

Curatorial Department:
South Asian Art

* Gallery 230, Asian Art, second floor

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with the New Members Fund, 1970

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The lion embodies power and royalty; it acts both as a guardian and as an assistant in the process of divine illumination. This spectacular lion probably would have sat on the roof of the vestibule connecting the towering main shrine to the lower-roofed hall or porch of a North Indian temple, high above but on axis with the threshold of the sanctum. Such lions are one of the few image types from the temple that are carved in the round. However, although many exist on still-standing temples and in museum collections, the double face of this image is unusual and may reflect an artist's experiment in creating an appropriate image to be viewed in profile from two sides.

* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.