Late 18th century - mid 19th Century
Gujarat, Western India
One of a pair, this martial figure represents a pratihara or ‘guardian of the gate.’ As befitting their title, pratiharas are represented on the façade of palaces and houses, and the gateways of temples in Rajasthan and Gujarat, metaphorically warding off threats both of a tangible and intangible nature.
As is customary, he is depicted in the manner of Rajput warriors. This pratihara is depicted wielding a tall staff, a symbolic weapon of defence rather than of battle, indicating his role as guardian of the door of house shrines (ghar daherasar). The rosaries he wears also reference his sacred association. The pratihara is also equipped with a small dagger and shield, suspended from his patka (waistband). The apparel, turban, and jewellery are indigenous rather than The Research Collective | The Artwork Programme, T2, Mumbai International Airport Limited influenced by Maratha costume, as is the case with many pratihara images of the 19th century onwards. The pratihara’s forehead is anointed with the sectarian mark of the Vaishnavaites, specifically with followers of Shrinathji. This suggests the figure belonged to a temple dedicated to the deity or the house of his devotee.