NYC - Metropolitan Museum of Art - Loving Couple (Mithuna)
Loving Couple (Mithuna)
Eastern Ganga dynasty, 13th century
A Hindu temple was often envisioned as the world's central axis, in the form of a mountain inhabited by a god. The temple itself was therefore worshiped. This was done by circumambulation (walking around the exterior, in this case in a counterclockwise direction) and by viewing its small inner sanctum. The outside of the temple was usually covered with myriad reliefs: some portrayed aspects of the god within or related deities; others represented the mountain's mythological inhabitants. From early times iconic representations of deities and holy figures were augmented by auspicious images, such as beautiful women, musicians, and loving couples (mithunas). Once part of the subsidiary decoration of a temple facade, the figures of this bejeweled couple embrace while peering rapturously into each other's eyes. Their full bodies and broad, detailed features are characteristic of architectural sculptures produced in thirteenth-century Orissa, a region in northeast India that was noted for its temples, particularly those built from the tenth through the thirteenth century, often distinguished by figures in astonishingly acrobatic and erotic poses. Couples such as this pair are understood to have multiple meanings, ranging from an obvious celebration of life's pleasures to the more metaphorical symbolism of a human soul's longing for union with the divine.
Purchase, Florance Waterbury Bequest, 1970 (1970.44)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art's permanent collection contains more than two million works of art from around the world. It opened its doors on February 20, 1872, housed in a building located at 681 Fifth Avenue in New York City. Under their guidance of John Taylor Johnston and George Palmer Putnam, the Met's holdings, initially consisting of a Roman stone sarcophagus and 174 mostly European paintings, quickly outgrew the available space. In 1873, occasioned by the Met's purchase of the Cesnola Collection of Cypriot antiquities, the museum decamped from Fifth Avenue and took up residence at the Douglas Mansion on West 14th Street. However, these new accommodations were temporary; after negotiations with the city of New York, the Met acquired land on the east side of Central Park, where it built its permanent home, a red-brick Gothic Revival stone "mausoleum" designed by American architects Calvert Vaux and Jacob Wrey Mold. As of 2006, the Met measures almost a quarter mile long and occupies more than two million square feet, more than 20 times the size of the original 1880 building.
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National Historic Register #86003556