figure (ritual & belief: representations)

Terracotta figure of a woman. The figure is the torso and head only. The arms of the figure bend and the hands are touching across the torso.

An 'Akra Devi', a standing female figurine, adorned with bangles, heavy ear ornaments and a heavy beaded necklace descending to the breasts, in coarse pottery with a dark red slip, standing without feet in an oval frame, hands raised in Añjali Mudrā. This last characteristic is very common, but some of these devis also have their arms by their sides. The back is flat and plain and the base is here, as always, concave and exhibiting broken edges. It is likely that this figure was arranged standing, in a row of others, on and around the shoulder of a large pottery vessel (see Khan, Knox and Thomas, 2000). These items are known only from Akra and adjacent sites in the Bannu area. Work at Akra in the late 1990s by a British-Pakistan team yielded one example stratified and in situ, but publication of that date remains awaited. The piece is marked on the back with 'Akra', a great ancient city site in Bannu district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan, about 110 miles south of Peshawar. The origins of Akra are iron age, through the Achaemenids, and all that follow, to its demise in the 10th century under Mahmud of Ghazni. Archaeological context: presumably unstratified and from a surface collection. It may be as late as the 3rd to 5th centuries CE. It has been argued that there is a sequence detectable in the corpus ranging from the early more sophisticated types to the later less well made, a point not yet proven by any serious archaeological evidence. Given by Col D H Gordon (1952/3).

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