Throne Leg in the Form of a Rampant Leonine Creature (yali or vyala) and Figures

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Throne Leg in the Form of a Rampant Leonine Creature (yali or vyala) and Figures

India, Odisha (Orissa), 16th century
Furnishings; Furniture
Height: 8 in. (20.32 cm.); Diam: 3 in. (7.62 cm)
Museum Purchase with County Funds (70.2)
Not currently on public view

Curator Notes

Orissan ivory throne legs are often fashioned in the form of rampant animals that are stylistically derived from earlier architectural and sculptural conventions. The most common is a mythical leonine creature (yāli or vyāla). The idiosyncratic representational style depicts the animal’s head as rotated 90° in the impossible posture of facing completely backwards in relation to the rest of its body. Orissan ivory yālis have a stylized mane that drapes over their back and arms like a cape, fan-shaped ears pointing upward, three or four rows of bushy eyebrows, a thick and multifaceted moustache, almond-shaped eyes, a pointed nose with prominent nostrils, and a tongue that protrudes to the point of touching its shoulders. Their bejeweled bodies have the tail of an elephant, short and stubby. In front of the exposed underside of the yālis is normally a lotus blossom, birds, and/or foliate filigree. At the base are various figures and riders on horses and elephants in procession. Frequently depicted at the top opposite the yāli heads is a crouched figure with a leonine head and human arms with hands grasping bejeweled garlands. It represents a "Face of Glory" (kīrttimukha). Compared to LACMA’s other Orissan ivory throne leg (M.87.279.1), this example features a more exuberant treatment of the yāli’s decorative details, particularly the greater amount of body jewelry and the lusher mane with large hair curls in place of the diamond-pattern flat pelt found on M.87.279.1.


  • Pal, Pratapaditya.  Elephants and Ivories in South Asia.  Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1981.