Seated Woman

India, Tamil Nadu
Pandya period, 8th - 9th century
H. 67 in. (170.2 cm), W. 34 3/4 in. (88.3 cm); 1979.16

Artist Comments

This Pandya woman bears an uncanny resemblance in size, stature, and appearance to the milk woman in my neighbourhood who hustles and bustles in the dark of early morning, gets her cows and buffaloes ready, cooks grain and husk for their meal, fills their water trough, and sweeps the floor clean. She then washes their udders and sits down with a tall brass can pressed between her knees, squeezing into it the foaming, frothing warm milk. Her posture is remarkably like the Pandya woman.

The iconic postures in these stone or granite or bronze human figures spanning centuries have constant reference to as yet living practices and point to a mind-boggling visual and cultural continuity at the level of daily life and body language.

And, across millennia, whether in the seated Pandya woman in stone relief, or the woman sitting with her back to us in the Ajanta frescoes, or in the delicate Harappan female figurines, we can trace this link. It comes then as no surprise to me that such body postures now spontaneously enter my own contemporary choreographic work. These are postures belonging to the physical vocabulary of a common cultural pool.