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Figure of Surya
Central Asia, A.D. 6th century, bronze with silver inlay, H: 21.5 cm

Surya means the sun in Sanskrit, and according to Rigveda he is a sun god. The image of Surya in Hinduism is with lotus flowers in both hands. However, influence of various cultures due to diffusion of Greek culture during the Hellenistic period (4th – 3rd century B.C.) as well as Iranian and Scythian elements transferred by the Kushans who had come to the Northern India in 2nd century B.C. extending their territory into an empire, brought new iconographic features creating an image of Surya in tunic with sleets and boots of nomadic people.
On the other hand, the eagle over the Surya’s head derives from Garuda the antagonist of snakes in Hinduism. Garuda is the bird of the sun god, but snakes are connected with rain and water that resembles the interacting principles of Yin and Yang.
The figure of Surya is made of bronze, but the eyes of the eagle, the eyes of Surya, the belt and the edge of the tunic are inlayed with silver. Beautiful pattern incised on the front of Surya’s garment suggests luxurious silk clothes. On the bottom of each feet there is a rectangular loop for fixing.
This work of art of high artistic level is also extremely profound because of fusion of features from at least 3 cultural regions.

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