Goddess Hariti Seated Holding a Child

Art Institute of Chicago

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This stele of the goddess Hariti is from the Pala dynasty, which extended from current-day central India through current-day Bangladesh. Pala rulers supported Buddhism, and their patronage encouraged a striking school of Buddhist art. This black stone sculpture likely sat in a niche in a temple, for worship by devotees. This Hariti, following convention, is surrounded by her children. She wears the thick, jeweled girdle common among many South Asian goddesses. Her body shape is less rectangular and more lithe than Kushan representations of Hariti. Her large breasts and small waist are typical of South Asian goddesses associated with prosperity and fertility. Her seated posture with one leg out, called lalitasana, is common among Buddhist and Hindu deities in South Asia.

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