Hanuman Conversing

Period: Chola period (880–1279)

Date: 11th century

Culture: India (Tamil Nadu)

Medium: Copper alloy

Dimensions: H. 25 3/8 in. (64.5 cm); W. 7 1/4 in. (18.4 cm)

Classification: Sculpture

Credit Line: Purchase, Bequests of Mary Clarke Thompson, Fanny Shapiro, Susan Dwight Bliss, Isaac D. Fletcher, William Gedney Beatty, John L. Cadwalader and Kate Read Blacque, Gifts of Mrs. Samuel T. Peters, Ida H. Ogilvie, Samuel T. Peters and H. R. Bishop, F. C. Bishop and O. M. Bishop, Rogers, Seymour and Fletcher Funds, and other gifts, funds and bequests from various donors, by exchange, 1982

Accession Number: 1982.220.9


The story of Hanuman, leader of the great monkey clan, is not only one of the most charming and appealing in all Hinduism, it is also of great didactic and moral value. As recounted in the epic Ramayana, the courage and loyalty of Hanuman make him the supreme example of those virtues. In Chola bronze sculpture, Hanuman is almost always depicted standing and bent slightly forward, as if in obeisance before Rama. He is usually part of a larger group that includes Rama, his brother Lakshmana, and his wife Sita.

Standing on a double-lotus pedestal on a tiered base, Hanuman is shown in graceful contrapposto, his left leg bent and the weight of his body resting on his rigid right leg. He leans forward and gestures as though engrossed in conversation. Except for his thick tail and simian face, he is represented as human. Hanuman is dressed in a dhoti and wears a crown and the usual jewelry of the period. The sacred thread is worn diagonally across his chest.