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Lajja Gauri
  • Lajja Gauri
  • Lajja Gauri
  • Lajja Gauri
Lajja Gauri

Lajja Gauri is the name most widely used in modern India for the image of an Indian Goddess that has a female torso and a lotus flower in place of a head, while her legs are bent up at the knees and drawn up to each side in a pose that has been described as one of “giving birth”.


This collection primarily features Carol R Bolon’s documentation of a large corpus of figures of Lajja Gauri spanning across India and time periods. Images of Lajja Gauri have been found in most states of India, though they are especially common in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra, with concentrations in or around the towns of Nagpur, Ter, Kondapur, Kausambi, and Bhita. 

Images of Lajja Gauri made between the second century and the eleventh century, range in quality from extreme crudity to great refinement. They range in size from two inches to over life-size and are made either of moulded or hand-formed terracotta or of stone carved in relief. The larger images, made of stone, served as icons for worship in temple subshrines. While the smaller terracotta or stone images may have been altarpieces in home shrines.


The assumption that Lajja Gauri’s iconography is simply erotic has discouraged serious consideration of her iconography and meaning. Misconceptions about the image have become entrenched in literature so much so that these images are often not displayed by museums. However a profound spiritual message is couched within a seemingly erotic display of Lajja Gauri’s imagery. These Lajja Gauri figures are auspicious images giving blessing, rather than erotic or apotropaic images meant to ward off the evil eye. More properly she is the elemental source of all life, animal and plant, and thereby she is the source of Fortune.


Carol R Bolon has formulated four main categories of Lajja Gauri’s imagery that progress from a minimally anthropomorphic form toward a completely anthropomorphic goddess.


Form I: The Uttanapad pot imagery is characterized by human legs in uttanapad pose with a shape above the legs that resembles both a pot and a female's lower torso. The figure has no upper torso  and there are no breasts, arms, or head. The pot torso resembled a brimming vase, or purna kumbha.


This form was popular in southern India and made in the third and fourth century but not thereafter.


Form II: Lotus-headed without arms figures are like those of uttanapad pot Form I except that the torso extends up to the shoulders and includes breasts. There are no arms or head in images in this group, but the lotus is elevated to sit atop the shoulders.

This is the predominant Maharasthrian-type figure especially in the central area and was made from the fourth to the tenth century.


Form III: Lotus-headed with arms figures are otherwise anthropomorphic female bodies with breasts and two upraised arms on the full torso with each hand holding a lotus bud, and legs in the uttanapad pose.

This type was made from the fourth to the tenth century. They were made in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat as early as the fourth century and were made with great refinement of details during the Early Chalukya period in the late seventh century in Andhra and Karnataka; they continued to be made in the south until at least the ninth century.


Form IV: Anthropomorphic figure with a human head, full natural female torso, with raised arms, each hand holding a lotus bud as in Form III, and with legs in the uttanapad pose.


This is a northern type only and was never made in the south.



Bolon, Carol R. Forms of the Goddess Lajja Gauri in Indian Art. University Press: Pennsylvania State, 1992.