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beautiful maiden sculpture

Use a mirror in difficult times:

You will see both cause and resolution.

When faced with adversity, you must ask whether you have done anything to bring misfortune upon yourself. If the present difficulties are the unforeseen outcome of events that you yourself set in motion, then it is necessary both to learn from your mistakes and to search for any possible way to correct them. If the difficulties are die to character flaws, then the situation should be resolved, and the basic fault must afterwards be eradicated.

The wonderful part of all this is that the resources for resolving our problems are also within us. When we watch athletes in competition and they outperform even their own high standards, we often say that they reached deep down and were able to give something extraordinary. When we are in the midst of our own confrontations, we must be the same way. We need to reach deep within and use the utmost of our abilities to overcome our obstacles. This is one manifestation of our continuing efforts at self-development.

When confronted with problems, we have all the more power to respond. when we triumph, we have even more confidence and facility to handle future problems. Therefore, meet life head-on. Maintain your self-cultivation, move forth to confront difficulties, and accumulate the momentum that success will give you.


365 Tao
Daily Meditations
Deng Ming-Dao
ISBN 0-06-250223-9

A Maiden, a Monkey, and the Mango Tree
India (Rajasthan or Madhya Pradesh), ca. 850
Pink sandstone, 25 1/2 x 14 in (64.8 x 35.6 cm)

Originally, this sculpture would have functioned as a bracket figure seemingly supporting the ceiling of a hall in a temple. It would not have been easily visible, partly because of its position and partly because of the absence of sufficient light. Even if the interior were well lighted, few devotees would have admired the figure's beauty as they walked through the hall towards the shrine. Out of context, however, one can letter appreciate its elegance and charm, which is enhanced by its apparent three-dimensionality.
detail view of maiden sculptueThe well-endowed young woman has opulent breasts and luxuriant hips, both of which gain one's attention by their contrapuntal swing, a loosely knotted string on her left thigh, and a swaying strand of pearls in her cleavage. Her bent hand and the downward gaze of her eyes emphasize her demureness; otherwise, her face shows little emotion.

She certainly does not seem to be aware of the headless monkey with a mango in its hand perched on her raised right rm. Her broken left hand would have touched one of the bunches of hanging fruit. Thus, not only does she appear pensive and remote, but her size, relative to that of the monkey and the tree, makes her of Amazonian proportions, thereby indicating her celestial rather than terrestrial nature. While her arm is clearly idealized, the leaves and fruit of the tree and the monkey are more realistically rendered.

Woman-under-the-mango-tree has remained a favorite motif for bracket figures in India since antiquity. Fruit-laden mango trees, a familiar and welcome sight in late spring and summer throughout the land, were a natural choice to symbolize fecundity and plenitude. In Indian literature, the woman is frequently said to bend from the weight of her breasts, just as the mango tree does from its fruit. But the mango is not merely a metaphor for fertility. The tree is also considered to be "the most perfect of all trees, sweet of flower and fruit, thick of shade". These qualities are also admired in the perfect wife.

The sculpture very likely once graced a temple somewhere in Rajasthan or Madhya Pradesh, from where several similar figures have entered American collections. Most noteworthy of these are two panels showing river goddesses, now in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Pal 1988, pp. 116-18, no. 45). All carved from the same rust-colored sandstone, these figures are informed with a baroque luxuriance of form and languid grace reflected also in the Sanskrit poetry of the period, as, for instance, in the following passage of Shri Harsha, the poet-king (died 648):

My lady come very slowly. The weight of thy breasts
just tire out thy
waist; why then another pearl necklace?
Due to the weight of thy

hips thy thighs are exhausted; why the golden girdle?. . .
Thou art just
decorated with thy own limbs; why does
thou bear ornaments?

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