Sculpture of Kubera

Mathura School of art, 2nd Century.

A poor man has very little to eat so is thin and frail. A worker labors hard for a living so is sinewy and muscular. A rich man is plump and well endowed because he neither sweats in the field nor ever goes hungry.

So observed the early forefathers within their thriving, bustling grass root societies and concluded if there ever was a god of wealth, a huge fat pot belly would have to be an important part of his description – and thus came about Kubera, the Hindu lord of wealth who since the time of his creation evolved and changed, both in form and story, as one generation gave away to the next, yet never lost his trademark lumpish, roundish shape.

The master sculptors of Mathura of the Kushan era did not invent Kuber or his legends. By the time Kuber reached their studios he was already a deity in his own right and well entrenched in Indian mythology having found a place in the great Indian epics of Ramayana and Mahabarata.

What the sculptors merely did was add in little nuances to his divinely obese stature like a flock of curly hair, a mustache and a robe that revealed their times, fashion and taste. Further more, they chipped away his earlier image of a hideous old man with three legs and eight teeth mentioned in the old Puranas (Hindu scriptures) and brought in a uniformity, later to be reproduced with little changes by different cultures and religions that adopted him.

Like the Ghandharan Buddha (see Farbound.Net snippet: the Greek Buddha), the statue of Kubera is a unique art of work, rarely found in this form today, and was possibly one of the earliest to be produced, modeled after a Kushan nobleman.

During the Kushan period – originally a nomadic clan of horse archers who settled in and ruled vast stretches of the Indian sub continent between the 1st and 5th century from their twin capital cities (located at Taxila and Mathura) – art and artists were highly encouraged and revered leading to the establishment of two separate schools at Gandhara (present day Pakisthan and Afghanistan) and Mathura (present day state of Uttar Pradesh, India).

Both regions were instrumental in introducing innovations in the field simultaneously, but did so in their own distinctive ways. While the art of Gandhara typically reflected Greek influences, Mathura preferred to be more Indian in form, and outlasted its contemporary.

In present day India, Kubera is still worshiped inspite the huge popularity of Lakshmi – the goddess of wealth. Though he still remains a lesser god as during the time of the Puranas.


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