Terracotta female figureOn display
Contact us about this object
Such hand-modelled figures with pinch noses, split pellet eyes and full buttocks were common in the Peshawar region and much further afield.
Terracotta female figure
Date3rd century BC - 1st century AD (300 BC - AD 100)
Material and technique
Dimensions15.8 x 5.5 x 3 cm max. (height x width x depth)
No. of items
Presented by E. M. Scratton, 1958.
Museum locationGround floor | Gallery 12 | India to AD 600
Hand-modelled figurines such as this, with pinch noses, split pellet eyes and crude appliqué representations of headdresses and ornaments, are found in abundance in the region around Peshawar, Pakistan. Some were found at nearby Chārsada by the excavator, Sir Mortimer Wheeler, who gave them the somewhat inappropriate name of “baroque ladies”. From scientifically conducted excavations, they are securely dated from around 200 B.C. to c.200 A.D. (Dani, pp.46ff., pl.XXIV-XXVII). The buttocks (rear view) are voluptuously rounded in a naturalistic style, in striking contrast to the schematised front view. The larger group to which these figures belong, all distinguished by this primitive technique, have been found at chalcolithic period settlements from as far west as eastern Iran and variants are still made a toys in present day Bengal. It is doubtful, whether the majority of these figures, even in early times, can be dignified with the name of mother-goddesses.
In: Harle, J. C., and Andrew Topsfield, Indian Art in the Ashmolean Museum (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 1987)
Harle, J. C., and Andrew Topsfield, Indian Art in the Ashmolean Museum (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 1987), no. 6 on p. 6, illus. p. 6
D. K. Chakrabarti, ‘Post-Mauryan States of Mainland South Asia (c. BC 185-AD 320)’, F. R. Allchin, ed., The Archaeology of Early Historica South Asia: The Emergence of Cities and States (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), pp. 324-325, illus. p. 325 fig. 12.23:4
Ahuja, Naman, Art and Archaeology of Ancient India: Earliest Times to the Sixth Century (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2018), no. 29.1