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Rare 900-Year-Old Sacred Bull Sculpture Added to National Art Collection
CANBERRA.- The National Gallery of Australia today announced its latest acquisition The sacred bull Nandi, vehicle of Shiva, acquired with the generous assistance of Roslyn Packer AO.

In the form of a humped Brahman bull, the Nandi is an important work of early Indian art from the 11th to12th centuries and is the only significant sculpture of the popular Hindu image in an Australian public collection.

“We are very grateful to Roslyn Packer, who is a longstanding member of the National Gallery of Australia’s governing Council and chair of the Acquisitions Committee. Her continued support and commitment in assisting the National Gallery in building Australia’s finest collection of Asian art has been crucial to acquiring this work,” said Ron Radford AM, Director of the National Gallery of Australia.

“The large stone image of Nandi, associated with Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction and creation is a superb example of the sculpture of the great South Indian Chola dynasty which reigned from the 9th to13th centuries,” said Dr Radford.

The new sculpture will be a key work in the National Gallery of Australia’s Indian gallery, which is the first public exhibition space in Australia devoted to this important area of Asian art. The sacred bull Nandi will be installed alongside the red sandstone 2nd-century Seated Buddha from the north-Indian Kushan dynasty. The earliest and arguably the finest Buddhist sculpture in an Australian collection, the Seated Buddha was also acquired through the generous support of Roslyn Packer in 2007.

As its name—giver of delight and joy—suggests, the sacred bull is a popular object of worship. Depicted in ornamental finery, with legs tucked under and tail wrapped around its smooth round body, the Nandi gazes serenely with soft melancholy eyes.

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