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About The Artwork
This panel depicting a temple dancer was one of a pair that decorated the doorjambs or entablature of the entrance to a Sri Lankan temple or monastery. With the decay of a building’s foundation timbers, such panels became independent objects. This example is very likely the pair to a panel that has been in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, since 1879. Both depict a female dancer dressed in a finely fluted skirt, framed by fern-like tendrils and a diamond lozenge-pattern border. The figure is poised in a dance and hand pose (karana) prescribed in the Indian classical dance manual, the Natyshastra. Stylistic parallels with temple wood carving, such as that seen at Embekke Devale in Kandy district, point to an eighteenth-century date.
Image: Unknown Artist, Female Temple Dancer, 18th cent. / photo courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art