Railing Pillar: Female Deity (Yakshi) and an Amorous Couple (Mithuna)
c. 100 B.C.E.
Asia: India, Madhya Pradesh, Bharhut
Not on View

This pillar once belonged to the Great Stupa (reliquary mound) at Bharhut. The prominent female in the upper register is a goddess associated with fertility and nature, emphasized by her grasp of the mango tree, which becomes laden with ripened fruit at her touch. With her left hand, she points to an amorous couple (mithuna) in the lower register. In Indian art, images of loving couples embracing are auspicious motifs that symbolize prosperity and fecundity.


  • Title: Railing Pillar: Female Deity (Yakshi) and an Amorous Couple (Mithuna)
  • Date: c. 100 B.C.E.
  • Medium: Sandstone
  • Dimensions: 58 x 11 x 8-1/4 in. (147.3 x 27.9 x 21 cm)
  • Credit Line: The Norton Simon Foundation
  • Accession Number: F.1972.11.1.S
  • Copyright: © The Norton Simon Foundation

Object Information

  • Newman, Richard, The Stone Sculpture of India: A Study of the Materials Used by Indian Sculptors from circa Second Century B. C. to the Sixteenth Century, p. 49
  • Lüders, H., Bharhut und die buddhistische Literatur, p. 15ff
  • Pal, Pratapaditya, Marg,fig. 6 pp. 59-61
  • Coomaraswamy, Amanda K., La sculpture de Bharhut,
  • Pal, Pratapaditya, American Collectors of Asian Art,fig. 6 pp.123-125
  • Bharhut Inscriptions, p. 81
  • Knoke, Christine, Arts of Asia, p. 64
  • Leoshko, Janice, Asian Art: Selections from the Norton Simon Museum,fig. 1 pp. 6-7
  • Cunningham, Alexander, The Stûpa of Bharhut: A Buddhist Monument Ornamented with Numerous Sculptures Illustrative of Buddhist Legends and History in the Third Century B. C., pp. 22, 139
  • Pal, Pratapaditya, Asian Art at the Norton Simon Museum, Volume 1: Art from the Indian Subcontinent,fig. 10, no. 12 pp. 19, 45
  • Grünwedel, Albert, and E. Waldschmidt, Buddhistische Kunst in Indien,
  • Bharhut Inscriptions, p. 73
  • Melody Rod-ari, Journal of the History of Collections,2015, Fig. 4 p. 485
  • Lerner, Martin, The Connoisseur,fig. 1 p. 196
  • Barua, Beni Madhab, Bharhut, p. 72
  • Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best,2010, cat. 781 p. 338

Image reproduction permission may be granted for scholarly or arts related commercial use. All image requests, regardless of their intended purpose, should be submitted via the reproduction request form.

Images may be protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights. Additional permission may be required.

Approved requests for the reproduction of an image will receive a contract detailing all fees and conditions of use of the image. Upon receipt of both the signed contract and full payment, the Office of Rights and Reproductions will provide the image. A complimentary copy of the published material must be provided to the Norton Simon Museum.

Reproduction Request Form