Sunday, July 15, 2012

Old pairings found

Dancing Celestial, India, early 12th century, sandstone
I don't often consider that a stone statue will change its pose, but in the story I heard this Celestial took a long leave from dancing. There are actually two halves to what you see in the picture. If you travel to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and get close up to the piece, you can see a white glue line along the stomach and under the breasts of this lady. For a long time only her top half hung in the Met. And she hung very much straight up and down, suspended vertically from the ceiling. The way she looks down today, and maybe a bit at herself, didn't exist then. She used to turn her head to the left and glance out and ahead, parallel to the floor. There wasn't much hint of further movement.

Much later a curator was half way around the world and thought he recognized something in a warehouse. There was a familiarity to the decorative clothing pattern of a bending torso with a raised leg. In fact I was told that there were a few thousand other pieces in that warehouse on that particular day, but there had been this one that stood out. Transportation was arranged, and a reintroduction. The statue that had been straight and straightforward is now contoured over her own body in a complex motion. You can go see her do her dance daily, where before she just hung out.

I imagine that there are old pairings, now forgotten, that if recalled would bend flavors to dance for us in a similar manner. I am sure that if I found one I would try to pause as it was happening, and reflect on it, just as this dancer perhaps admires her own form.

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