The Didarganj Yakshi (दीदारगंज यक्षिणी) or Didarganj Chauri Bearer (दीदारगंज चामरधारिणी यक्षिणी) is probably the star attraction at the Patna Museum. This famous sculpture is considered as one of the finest examples of Mauryan art.
This life-sized (5’4″ tall) beautiful sculpture is carved out of a single piece of Chunar sandstone. A well polished surface gives it a unique lustre. The chauri (चामर) is held in the right hand of statue and it’s left hand is broken. The prominent breasts, the narrow waist, the creases on the lower abdomen, and broad hips, are classic features of feminine beauty. Her garments are elegantly folded and pleated, held in place by beautifully carved waist ornament (kamar-bund.). A slight bend in the left leg endows the statue with a subtle impression of graceful motion.
The sculpture is estimated to date from ca. 3rd century BCE to the 2nd century CE.
As per ASI reports the statue was buried head wise on the bank of the Ganges, at the hamlet of Didarganj Kadam Basual, near Qadmi-Rasul Mosque. The location is also called Nasirpur Tajpur Hissa Khurd in the Malsalami thana of Patna City. Local washerman used its base as slab to beat clothes. Here it was dug up by Qaji Muhammad Afzal alias Ghulam Rasul and ultimately it was removed it to the village and then it was brought to Patna Museum on November 17, 1917 by noted archaeologist and historian, Dr. J.N. Samaddar.
The exquisite Didarganj Yakshi is widely viewed by archaeologists as one of the finest and most precious artefacts of ancient Indian sculptural art. This elegant piece has been exhibited at many museums, the world over. In the year of India’s independence, it represented the new nation in the show at London. It returned to Delhi in 1948 and became a part of the exhibition ‘Masterpieces of India’ at the National Museum, Delhi and later transferred to Patna Museum. The last outside exhibition it was a part of was in Summer 1985 at the Festival of India ‘Aditi’ held at the Smithsonian Institution and The National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, Capital of USA, where it received rave reviews and wide coverage. It was very unfortunate that the statue’s nose was damaged during its travel to Smithsonian Institution and the National Gallery of Art, Washington. The damage was taken as a dent in the national pride, the sculpture was designated a special category of ‘rare and endangered’ antique. It was decided that it would never leave its home museum, again.
(Photographed with permission at the Patna Museum. Duplication not permitted.)