NAMAN AHUJA, art historian, asks an exciting question that reminds us that the interpretation of artefacts, indeed, interpretation as such, is inevitably framed by the context of the viewer, and therefore always open to rethinking.
The image below is one that we are all familiar with, the exquisite sculpture of the ‘Dancing Girl’ found at Mohenjodaro.
Naman Ahuja, speaking to Anindita Ghose, suggests that the reading of this image as a dancing girl can be attributed to a perspective arising from the normalizing of patriarchal values prevalent in contemporary society. Ahuja offers an alternative reading that is much more persuasive:
The figure has bangles all the way up her left arm but her right arm is bare, as any working person would have it. A decorated left arm and a bare right arm free for labour…or for war? If she was a dancing girl by profession, surely it would have been relevant to keep both arms decorated? Look at the way she is standing. Look at her confidence. One arm on hip. Head thrown back. The way her hand is sculpted, there might have been a spear in her hand. Is she a warrior figure? Could she be a soldier rather than a dancing girl?
I can’t wait for this exhibition, India And The World: A History In Nine Stories, to come to Delhi!